The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 9
Bill proposes replacing high school MEAP test
Legislation would replace
MEAP test with some version of
college entrance exam
LANSING (AP) - The high school MEAP
test would be replaced with a version of a col-
lege entrance exam under legislation intro-
duced yesterday in the state Senate.
It is one of many possible changes in store
for the Michigan Educational Assessment
Program, the state's K-12 standardized test-
ing system, in both the state Senate and
"People question the validity of the (high
school) test and wonder whether we should be
using it," said state Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-
Holland), a sponsor of the legislation and chair-
man of the Senate Education Committee. "Do
we stay with what we have or move forward?
... That is the issue we need to explore."
Kuipers plans hearings as early as tomor-
row on the legislation to switch the high
school MEAP. Other bills in the Senate pack-
age are sponsored by both Republicans and
Kuipers said his legislation would not
specify the replacement test, but other sup-
porters of a switch want a combination of the
academic ACT and a work skills ACT to
replace the MEAP.
Supporters of the switch, including the
Michigan Association of Secondary School
Principals, say the ACT is a more widely used
and respected measure of high school students'
academic performance. About 75 percent of
Michigan high school students take a version of
the ACT each year to determine their eligibility
for college admissions.
Advocates say the ACT test would be shorter
and easier to give, saving hours of classroom
Opponents of the switch say the ACT is not
in line with Michigan standards. The MEAP
test is written to conform with state standards,
State schools superintendent Tom Watkins
has said the MEAP may be do a better job
meeting requirements of the federal No
Child Left Behind Act, a law intended to
make sure all students can read and do math
at grade level. Nearly 900 Michigan schools
in January failed to meet the law's yearly
progress requirements based on MEAP tests
taken in 2003.
A House subcommittee yesterday also rec-
ommended replacing the high school MEAP
with the combination of the two ACT tests. The
recommendation includes making changes to
assure that the switch does not add extra costs
to the state budget.
The House Education Subcommittee on
Standardized Testing and Assessment, headed
by Republican Rep. Joanne Voorhees of
Wyoming, also suggested other changes that
could affect how the MEAP is developed,
administered and scored.
The panel recommended establishing a.
MEAP advisory panel that would oversee and
report on the program annually. It also recom-
mends establishing fixed deadlines for the pro-
gram from when schools receive materials to
when results are released, and penalizing
schools or testing companies if the deadlines
are not met.
Delays in getting test results have been a
major concern for school districts and lawmak-
ers the past few years.
Ed Roeber, a state official overseeing the
MEAP for the past five months, acknowledged
there are problems with the program, which
was recently returned to the Department of
Education from the state Treasury Department.
"Problems that have taken years to fester will
not be fixed overnight," he said, adding that he
expects to see improvements in the MEAP sys-
tem each year.
The State Board of Education next month
could vote on a proposal that would change
the time of year the MEAP is taken, possi-
bly consolidating all the exams into October
and November starting in the 2005-06 aca-
The tests now are given in the winter and
An autumn testing date would allow schools
to get their MEAP results in the middle of the
school year. That would leave time to work on
weaknesses exposed through the testing, sup-
porters of the date switch say.
Continued from Page 1
and failed to pass last year. Connerly has also fallen
ill and recently underwent surgery.
Connerly has not come through with money to
fund a paid effort, former campaign manager Tim
O'Brien said. But officials at MCRI and Connerly's
American Civil Rights Coalition say they expect him to
"I don't think there's evidence that he won't come
through. He's been able to deliver in other states. I
think that speaks to his credibility," said state Rep.
Leon Drolet (R-Clinton Twp.), who co-chairs
MCRI's steering committee.
O'Brien, also a member of the Libertarian Party,
left his position last week because of differences in
opinion over strategy. Zarko said both O'Brien and
Schwartz believed the initiative should make more
definite contigency plans for if it fails this year, an
option that neither Connerly nor Executive Director
Jennifer Gratz has supported.
"It was their self-doubt that (the initiative) should
continue," Zarko said. "They got cold feet because
Ward was out of contact for a few weeks," he added,
referring to Connerly's illness. Connerly has report-
edly made only two public appearances in the state
since January when the campaign started.
Further disunity within the group is highlighted by
the fact that O'Brien and Schwartz's relationship with
MCRI is disputed. Zarko and Justin Jones, the director
of policy and planning for ACRC, said both men are no
longer associated with the campaign. But O'Brien and
Schwartz said they still have close connections with
MCRI. Schwartz still claims to be MCRI's treasurer,
while Zarko said funding is now under the steering
committee's control and O'Brien has resigned.
The uneasy relationship also involves a bank
account containing money raised to fund a volunteer
effort. O'Brien and Schwartz say only they can
access the account. Since he was hired to coordinate
the volunteer effort and was never in charge of the
paid circulator part, O'Brien said that he has finan-
cial control over these funds. He said he would only
come through with the volunteers if Connerly comes
through to fund the paid circulators.
"Eagerly and with complete abandon we will jump
and work our little hearts out" if Connerly comes
through and the court rules in MCRI's favor, O'Brien
said. He added that he believes volunteers can collect
up to 100,000 signatures for the campaign.
But Zarko said it is a "reckless contention" that the
two men have control of these funds, and said he
may take legal action to get access to the bank
account. That O'Brien and Schwartz are both mem-
bers of Libertarian Party is a component of the
debate, he added.
Despite their disagreements, Zarko said he still has
some communication with O'Brien and the former
campaign manager has cooperated in providing
MCRI with petitions and signatures that have already
MCRI first must contend with legal threats to its
petition drive. Currently, the state Court of
Appeals is reviewing a circuit court ruling that
struck down MCRI's petition form. MCRI offi-
cials said they could either redo their petition form
and start over if they lose, or continue to collect
signatures if they win.
IFf MCRI loses the lawsuit, it would have to mail
out new petitions to people who have already signed
to receive those signatures again, Zarko said.
Whether MCRI can start collecting signatures this
year for 2006 if it does not obtain enough by July is
unclear. While MCRI officials say they could restart
the petition drive either this year or next year, Michigan
Secretary of State spokesman Ken Silfven said any sig-
natures that are more than 180 days old are invalid, so
MCRI would have to start in 2006 if it fails this year.
Even with reports that MCRI is failing, the opposi-
tion groups Citizens for a United Michigan and
BAMN will continue to fight against the campaign.
"We are still very concerned that Ward Connerly
will come up with the reserves to buy signatures
on this," United Michigan spokesman David
Waymire said. "We are remaining very vigilant."
But he doubted MCRI had additional funding
because otherwise it woulds not be waiting for the
The group is working with businesses to raise
funds and support in opposition to MCRI. Business-
es, Waymire said, realize that diversity is crucial to
compete in local, national and international markets.
They rely on the universities to groom a qualified
and diverse workforce.
United Michigan will also conduct focus groups
and survey research to mold a campaign-in case the
issue reaches the ballot.
BAMN struck a more triumphant note, asserting
that the "attack on civil rights" is essentially over and
Connerly will most likely withdraw from the political
landscape. But the group has a "well-oiled":Decline
to Sign campaign in case MCRI springs back.
Campus Day leader Jessi Grieser stops her tour group at the
Cube yesterday. The University has accelerated the pace of
tours in the past few weeks.
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