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Ann Arbor board shifts approach to students who opt out of standardized tests

Benjamin Chun
Flickr creative commons

The Ann Arbor school board is rethinking how it deals with students who opt out of state tests.

The board is scrapping a controversial proposal to remove kids from magnet schools if they opt out of state tests. An online petition protesting that move got more than 700 signatures.  

Instead, the board is now considering a policy that would let the board take “any actions deemed necessary to protect the district.”

What that means, exactly, isn’t clear.

But at Wednesday night's board meeting, several members stressed that they don't like the state's required testing any better than many parents do. But they say the district's funding is at risk if not enough kids sit for the test. 

Specifically, the Michigan Department of Education says the district could lose a quarter of its Title I funding, which is aimed at helping low-income students, if even one school misses test participation requirements four years in a row.

This all comes after about 100 students at Ann Arbor Open, a magnet school, sat out the state's new M-STEP test this year.

Parent Stephanie Teasley said at the meeting that the board needs to help parents understand why their kids should sit for these tests.

"When I talk to parents about it, the thing that seems to have been emphasized to them is the fear of losing funding from the state," she says. "And that's a very real possibility. But that's not the basis for engaging with parents in thoughtful conversations about the place for standardized testing and the potential value for the district, and parents and their children, for standardized testing."  

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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