Preview of New M-STEP Science Test Reveals a Good Fit with Mi-STAR

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From all reports, Michigan middle schoolers and their science teachers are enthusiastic about Mi-STAR. Not only are the units fun and interesting, but the students also emerge with a deep understanding of the subject matter. But how well will Mi-STAR prepare students for the upcoming NGSS-aligned standardized tests, which serve as yardsticks, not only of students’ learning but also of their schools’ educational quality?

It is too soon to tell for100_0301 (2) sure, but at least one pilot teacher thinks Mi-STAR will give her students skills they will need to excel on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) science test.

Jen Pera teaches science and mathematics to middle schoolers at Jeffers High School, in Painesdale, and has piloted two different Mi-STAR units in her 2016–17 seventh grade class. “Student engagement is really high with Mi-STAR,” she says. “They are excited to come to class, and I know the curriculum is working. Through the unit’s embedded assessments, they demonstrate a lot of knowledge.”

100_0271 (2)Like students throughout the state, Pera’s students take a battery of M-STEP tests, and starting in 2018, a science test with some NGSS-aligned questions will be piloted in the eighth grade. Pera was given an opportunity to pilot a beta version of the test in April with her eighth graders. When she reviewed some of the M-STEP test questions, they looked awfully familiar.

“Their sample test items were aligned with NGSS—they have the same types of assessments we use in Mi-STAR,” she said. “This test was for eighth grade, but when I saw the questions, I knew my seventh graders, with all their Mi-STAR experience, were ready for it. If they could take this test, they would rock it.”

Next year, she’ll have a chance to find out for sure. “By then, we’ll have seventh and eighth grade students with plenty of Mi-STAR experience,” Pera says. “I think they should do very well.”

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Mi-STAR was founded in 2015 through generous support provided by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR has also received substantial support from the National Science Foundation, the MiSTEM Advisory Council through the Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Technological University.