State may ask to change school tests again

Capital News Service
LANSING — State officials are considering whether to recommend a more advanced standardized test for students while reducing the number of years they have to take it. The Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, M-STEP, is taken every year. Proposed changes would reduce the number of years students take it to once in elementary school and once in middle school. In grades 3 and 8, students would take M-STEP with the additions multiple times, and in other years they would take other tests. State Superintendent Brian Whiston recently announced the proposed change and said it could help meet the Michigan Department of Education’s goal of becoming a top 10  school system in the country in the next 10 years.

Program turns college grads into high school advisers

Capital News Service
LANSING — An organization that aims to close the college education gap between rich and poor is introducing a program that puts recent college graduates in Michigan high schools to guide students through the admissions process. Michigan College Access Network plans to hire 40 recent graduates from 13 Michigan colleges to work full time in high schools with high proportions of low-income students and low college enrollment rates. High schools in Manistee, Alpena and Alcona are among those that will participate, said Brandy Johnson, founder and executive director of the access network. Joyce McCoy, director of instruction at Alpena Public Schools, said a college adviser would be able to help students find a good college fit by organizing activities such as job shadows while in high school, so they can see what they enjoy. “We haven’t been able to do much in job shadowing because we are a deficit district,” McCoy said.

High price tag of college draws concern, ideas

Capital News Service
LANSING – A statewide discussion is underway on how students pay for tuition at public, private and community colleges. College affordability, an ongoing subject of debate, gained considerable momentum when President Barack Obama highlighted the topic while speaking at the University of Michigan last year. And a State of the State Survey from Michigan State University found that while 95 percent of residents believe a college education is “very important” for success, affordability is a barrier for many. The report, “A Look at the College-Going Culture of Michigan Adults,” indicated that 67 percent of residents “somewhat disagree” or “strongly disagree” that a college education is reasonably affordable for people in the state. Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), said she was thrilled by such ambition but discouraged with the financial struggle students and their families face.

College, higher income lead to healthier folks

Capital News Service
LANSING–People with a college education tend to be healthier than those with only a high school diploma, according to a recent national study. Health and wellness professionals say the trend, also noted in a separate Michigan study, is because poor people don’t have easy access to recreational exercise, health care and quality food. The study released in late November by College Board, an education advocacy organization, extended the benefits of a college education to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, better pay, job security, stronger family ties and a greater tendency to provide community service. About 34 percent of people with only a high school diploma are obese, the study found. That’s compared to 20 percent of people with a four-year college degree.