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Schools can begin giving students new state standardized test today

kids at computers
U.S. Department of Education
Creative Commons

Officials at Michigan’s Department of Education say schools are ready for the new standardized test. The eight-week window to take it opens today.

The new test measures kids’ understanding of core subjects. But unlike the old test, the new one is online.

Andy Middlestead heads MDE’s Office of Standards and Assessment. He says 20% of schools will give the test on paper; mainly because they don’t have enough computers or a good enough Internet connection.

“There are some schools that just choose not to do it online just yet for instructional reasons. They may not use technology a lot in their schools, so they’re not quite ready to make that jump yet,” Middlestead said.

Schools have the option to give students the test on paper until at least 2017. The state has given out $145 million in grants to help with the transition.

83% of the 800,000 or so students taking the test will do it online. He says Detroit Public Schools, the state’s largest district, reports it will administer the test online.

Middlestead has been working with several schools to test out the new test.

“What we found out there is folks were ready to go. We were able to talk with them, check their setups. In some cases we did some load testing and got some students online and see what happens when we put 100 or more kids on the test at the same time in a building, and so far everything has gone well,” he said.

He expects everything will go smoothly. But he says there are teams of people on standby in case they don’t.

“We can physically get to buildings if need be with staff to help assist get things back on track if anything does happen,” he said.

Students in grades 3 through 8 and high school juniors will take the exam, known as the M-STEP test.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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