October 3, 2011
LANSING - The Michigan Department of Education will continue to closely monitor the annual administration of its Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests this year, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. Statewide MEAP testing, which is administered by local school districts, runs from October 11-28.
"We have in place a very comprehensive and thorough set of testing integrity guidelines," Flanagan said. "We want to make sure the MEAP tests are taken fairly by every student and schools administer them correctly."
National media reports over the past several months have exposed systemic cheating practices on statewide tests in local school districts around the country. While each year the Michigan Department of Education has reported isolated, building-level cases, they are routinely investigated and dealt with.
The Michigan Department of Education will continue to identify assessment data anomalies; perform random and unannounced on-site test monitoring in schools across the state; and provide detailed guidance for educators in the state's Assessment Integrity Guide, approved by the State Board of Education in 2009.
However, far more important are the steps that local districts, schools, and classrooms can take, related to state assessments.
There are a few common mistakes that can be prevented if proper testing procedures are followed, the Michigan Department of Education noted. The most common mistakes that could invalidate student test scores include:
- Failing to keep secure assessment materials properly stored before and after testing;
- Providing any type of assistance to students during testing, including leaving materials on whiteboards or bulletin boards that may help students with answers to the tests;
- Failing to read aloud and follow test directions as specified in the assessment administration manuals;
- Failing to follow security procedures for distributing or returning secure materials;
- Failing to ensure all secure materials are accounted for before and after testing; and
- Failing to provide the proper assessment accommodation to eligible students or utilizing the wrong test form when administering the accommodation.
The impact of a misadministration or suspected academic fraud can be minimized if schools contact the state's Bureau of Assessment & Accountability as soon as possible, according to Joseph Martineau, director of that division within the Michigan Department of Education.
"Our main objective is to determine if the validity of student scores has been compromised, and if so, to work with the school to get emergency test materials ordered as quickly as possible," Martineau stressed. "Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety protects everyone involved in the assessment process. It protects students by making sure every test counts by ensuring test scores aren't invalidated. It also protects educators, schools, and the state from the stigma associated with media scrutiny and damaging accusations, even if the accusations are unfounded."
By taking proactive steps, Flanagan said that Michigan demonstrates to parents and the public that its educators are committed to a statewide assessment program of the utmost integrity.
"Our focus has been to establish strong testing policies, and provide extensive training to local schools to prevent and deter problems from happening," Flanagan said.
To view the state's Assessment Integrity Guidelines, go to www.michigan.gov/meap and go to the "MEAP Fall Assessments" section and click on the Assessment Integrity Guidelines pdf.