State may ask to change school tests again

BY CAITLIN DELUCA
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.

Legislator wants law to solve school bathroom issue

By JASON KRAFT
Capital News Service
LANSING – A state lawmaker wants transgendered students in Michigan to be required to use school bathrooms or locker rooms of the gender they were assigned at birth. Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, announced that he will introduce the bill in response to guidelines recently released for schools by the Michigan Department of Education. The guidelines are optional and say students should be allowed to use the restroom that matches their current gender identity. “All-gender or single- user restrooms (staff bathroom or nurse’s office) should be made available to students who request them, but not presented as the only option. Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of underlying reasons, has the right to access a single-user restroom,” reads the document.

Shrinking number of teachers signals end of a dream career

By BROOKE KANSIER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Many children aspiring to be teachers when they grow up could end up having a change of heart. In the face of increased pressures due to standardized testing, new college entry tests, and a lack of societal respect for the profession, fewer students are pursuing teaching careers, education advocates say. “Nationally and in Michigan, there are fewer students going into education,” said Corey Drake, director of teacher preparation at Michigan State University. Enrollment in university education programs fell 10 percent nationally from 2004 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The number of initial certificates issued by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has also been declining annually, according to Leah Breen, interim director of the department’s Office of Professional Preparation Services.

Holt schools meeting state standards, facing achievement gap

By Kelsey Block
The Holt Journal

At the October Board of Education meeting, Holt Curriculum Director Ruth Riddle reported that six schools in the district have a significant achievement gap. Earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Education released a top-to-bottom ranking of schools in the state. The list is based on data collected through the 2013-2014 MEAP tests. Within that list, schools can receive one of three designations: reward, focus or priority. Reward schools are the top 5 percent of schools in the ranking, priority schools are the bottom 5 percent of schools, and focus schools are the 10 percent of schools that have a significant gap in achievement between the highest and lowest scoring students.