Assessment Changes for 2018-19: The Basics on Benchmark Reimbursement

wendyz@michiganprincipals.org's picture

Michigan’s state assessment system will look a little different for the 2018-19 school year. Section 104d of the State School Aid Act (P.A. 265 of 2018) allocates a total of $9.2 million for reimbursement to districts for the purchase of one of three types of assessments:

  1. A computer-adaptive test; or
  2. One or more diagnostic tools or screening tools, for pupils in grades K-3 that are intended to increase reading proficiency by grade 4; or
  3. Benchmark assessments for pupils in grades K-8.

To help districts work through the details, MASSP has put together a handy PDF document outlining this information.

Since each of the three assessment options comes with its own list of criteria and stipulations, the MDE has put together a pair of documents and recorded a webinar to help further explain this information:

Here is a brief FAQ based on questions we've gotten from the field:

Q: I thought the state was going to pick three assessments and we could choose from that list. What happened?
A: You're right. This is a change from the budget language put forward by the legislature in the 17-18 budget that required MDE to conduct an RFI and provide districts with short list of assessment choices and state contracted pricing. Instead, the Legislature's new language in the 18-19 budget moves to a grant/reimbursement system that will allow districts to choose a benchmark tool of their choice. However, districts will need to work directly with vendors at this point and no state negotiated pricing will be available.

Q: How much money can I get?
A: MDE has announced that funding will be provided to districts as part of a per-pupil allocation, or formula grant, according to the available funding, based on the number of pupils for whom assessments were purchased. Because MDE cannot know among how many students the $9.2 million will be divided until all applications have been submitted, the amount of the per-pupil allocation cannot be determined ahead of time. MDE projects that if every school district applies for funding, the appropriation will cover roughly 70 percent of a district’s costs.

Q: How do I apply for a reimbursement?
A: The budget language requires reimbursement to be made to eligible districts that complete their purchase by October 15, 2018 for the 18-19 school year. Proof of Purchase must be submitted with the grant application in order to be eligible for reimbursement. MDE is still putting together a reimbursement grant application. They anticipate the grant application window will open early-September and close mid-November and grant award funds will be disbursed starting in the December State Aid payment.