House Ed Committee Discusses WorkKeys, MHSAA Transfer Rule

Bob Kefgen's picture

On Thursday, the House Education Committee took up a pair of bills that are of particular interest to Principals. HB 4501, introduced by Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland), would effectively make it optional for schools to administer the WorkKeys portion of the Michigan Merit Exam (MME). HB 5393, introduced by Rep. Jim Tedder (R-Clarkston), is a recently introduced bill that would impact a school’s ability to enforce current Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) rules governing athletic transfers.

HB 4501 – WorkKeys

The committee took about an hour of testimony from a variety of sources on HB 4501 which would eliminate the requirement that the MME include a work skills component. The effect of the legislation would be to make it optional for schools to administer and for students to take ACT’s WorkKeys, the assessment product currently used for this purpose. Because the bill only changes the mandate, but does not eliminate the funding, districts would still have the option to administer WorkKeys to their students at state expense.

In addition to the bill sponsor, the committee heard testimony from Brandon School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Outlaw and MASSP’s Director of Government Relations Bob Kefgen, both of whom spoke in support of the bill and offered a variety of reasons why eliminating the mandate would benefit students. They were joined in their support of the bill by a number of education organizations (including MASA, MAISA, MASB, MEA, AFT Michigan, and several ISDs) who turned in cards in support of the bill.

Andy Johnston from the Grand Rapids chamber spoke in opposition to the bill, arguing that some businesses use the National Career Readiness Certificate (the credential awarded by ACT for achieving a certain score on the WorkKeys assessment) as a screening tool for job applicants and several business groups, including the Michigan Chamber and the Michigan Manufacturers Association, turned in cards in opposition to the legislation.

The committee did not vote on the bill, but future hearings are expected.

HB 5393 – Athletic Transfers

The panel also heard from Rep. Tedder and Clarkston Athletic Director Jeff Kosin in support of HB 5393, which would effectively prevent schools from enforcing the MHSAA rules that govern athletically motivated transfers. The bill was introduced as a direct response to the situation surrounding the transfer of Thomas Kithier, now a student at Clarkston High School and a high profile prep basketball player who was found by the MHSAA to have engaged in an athletically motivated transfer.

In addition to the implications for students athletics, the issue has become politicized by school choice advocates who have latched onto the MHSAA rule as being an encumbrance to parent and student choice.

The panel did not vote on the bill, though the chair indicated that more testimony and discussion would be forthcoming.