Second post of the morning, but this one is too important to miss: the MEAP essay assessment is no more. The essay portion, which had asked students to write a rough-draft quality essay based on their life experiences, will be scrapped next year. Officially, the State Department of Michigan says that the test is problematic (sarcastic “Oh really?” inserted here), as many students fail to be judged proficient. Other more cynical folks claim it’s about the money–that the State can no longer afford to evaluate the essay portion. I might also volunteer that the test will be replaced by one that is easier to pass so that schools can continue to maintain AYP standards: when the test scores are too low, just change the test. Here’s a bit from the article, in any case:
MEAP essay exam sacked, but officials question if it’s about money or problems with the test
by Dave Murray | The Grand Rapids Press
Sunday March 29, 2009, 8:00 AM
Michigan Education Assessment Program tests have great implications. The exams are used to determine if schools meet federal goals mandated in the No Child Left Behind Act. Poor scores can lead to sanctions.
On the writing test, students are given a “prompt” and asked to write about something from their lives. The 2008 exam asked sixth-graders to write about having hope and eighth-graders about overcoming an obstacle.
The department contracts with North Carolina-based Measurement Incorporated to grade the tests, and the company hires people to read the exams at scoring centers in Grand Rapids and Ypsilanti.
Two people read each test before 2005, but now a second scorer is used only 20 percent of the time.
Students can meet four levels of scoring, from “not proficient” to “advanced.”
The number of students scoring in the “advanced” range dropped in each grade each of the past three years.
Teachers who created the exams set the bar too high, Joseph Martineau, the state’s director of educational assessment and accountability, told the state Board of Education.
But he also said the exam is unreliable. Martineau said it would be better to have students take longer, more in-depth exams in grades four and seven.
It cost “a few hundred thousand dollars” to produce, score and report the exams for grades three, five, six and eight, and that money saved will be spent expanding and improving the tests for the other two grades, he said.
If I’m right and the State is simply making the test more passable to avoid sanctions, it’s just another example of the way NCLB has corrupted our system. When the law forces schools to cheat, it’s time to change (or scrap) the law.