Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Should Homeschoolers take the MEAP?

(Note: MEAP is the Michigan Assessment Test but this article could apply to any state with a substitution made for their exam. )

Another school district is now making MEAP (Soon to be Michigan Merit Exam) a requirement for graduation. The legislature has been trying to make it a requirement for homeschoolers as well. They have tried various approaches with the most succesful being money to entice parents to voluntarily have their children take the MEAP. While the money may seem enticing I would urge caution before you send your children off to be tested.

When the MEAP was first introduced it was sold to unsuspecting parents as a way to measure school performance. Everbody wants better schools. This was merely a way to make sure that this could happen. I

But think about it. If it is merely to measure for school performance then why not make the test anonymous? And why do 95% of the students have to take the test in order to get picture of whether the school is performing well? Certainly, that would be helpful but statistically you could have a much smaller sample to determine whether a school was doing well. The short answer is because the test has little to do with school performance and everything to do with student performance.

And why the push to have homeschoolers take the test?

When I debated former Representative now State Senator Switalkski (former Education Committee member) on the radio, he admitted that testing drives curriculum decisions. The end result is educators will teach to the test. As a homeschooler, I will inevitably end up teaching what is on the test so that my children will perform well. This meets the true goal which is a standard on what is being taught throughout the state. I do not want the state to dictate what my children learn and when they learn it. Michigan has determined that a parent has the right to home educate their children with
no testing requirement.

By requiring MEAP for graduation, the colleges will begin to look to this test as a part of college admission. That's why the test has now been combined with the ACT and become the
Michigan Merit Exam. Included with this test will be a Social Studies component and a Job Readiness component. This will quickly change into a National Exam as more and more states adopt the ACT as it's test of choice.

Homeschoolers will be out of the loop. Colleges will demand the scores for a comparison with other students. The only way the homeschoolers will get them is to take the test. The only way to do well on the exam is to teach what is on the test. Thus the state has effectively taken away my authority to decide the curriculum for my child. (This of course assumes that my children are college bound which is a subject for another day).

The Job Readiness component is a whole different issue. Why would a test that is supposedly measuring school performance be interested in whether my child is "job ready". The simple answer is that my child is a commodity. A body to be shuffled around as the state decides based on a test. This may sound far fetched but consider what the school system is like in
Germany and you get an idea of what is going to happen here.

The track that they enter determines which type of school they can next enter, and finally, weather they will go to a university or enter a technical field or trade.

The track they enter is based on a test they must take. This begins in the
fourth grade.

This is also the time where children are evaluated for the next level of schooling. In the 5th and 6th grades (the "orientation grades:) it is decided which track the student will go to next. The decision is based on the students ability, speed of learning, intelligence and/or preference.

Notice how little empahsis is given to what they would like to do but what the test determines they are suitable for. Interesting, the MEAP is given in the schools here in Michigan in the elementary years. Could this be a foreshadowing what is to come for our great state and country?

I hope to write more on this subject but a great book to get is
Real Choice, Real Freedom by Kerry Morgan. Mr. Morgan is an attorney and homeschool father in the state of Michigan. His book details the true rights of parents as laid out by the founding fathers of our nation and how they are being eroded by the state.


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