New merit test gets mixed reviews

Published 12:05 pm Friday, January 7, 2005

By By NIKKI COOPER / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Michigan Education Assessment Program, commonly known as the MEAP test, is the state's standardized testing program for students in public schools in Michigan.
But starting in the 2006-2007 school year, while the fourth, fifth, seventh and eight grade students are taking the MEAP, Michigan 11th graders will be taking the Michigan Merit Exam.
The Michigan Merit Exam is a college entrance-type exam that will soon be replacing the MEAP test for 11th grade students.
One reason for switching over to the Michigan Merit Exam is the MEAP compares classes and you can't track the growth of the individual students, most experts say.
The Michigan Merit Exam will be able to compare how the students and school are improving, they say.
Gary Rider, superintendent of Brandywine Public Schools, said "There has been significant concerns about how good MEAP is. Educators have been looking for change."
Rider said the Michigan Merit Exam will not be simply an assessment test and will be different from MEAP in that regard.
Doug Law, Superintendent of Niles Public Schools, said that reason behind the change was political.
While this new test should show how well the students are doing in their courses, there still are some questions, both Niles education leaders said.
One of his biggest concerns is the new exam may not line up with the state "bench marks" or current curriculum.
One problem Law sees is that Michigan spent time and money to make sure curriculum would match up with the MEAP. Now, educators may be forced to re-work curriculum to adjust to this new test.
Law also said it will take a couple years to design classes in such a way to prepare students for the new Michigan Merit exam.