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Growing Discussion of Potential Changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum

Jeff Cobb

By Jeff Cobb, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Nov. 27, 2019

As the Legislature begins shifting its focus away from the drug-out budget process, an important piece of education reform is beginning to gain momentum. The Michigan Merit Curriculum, created in 2006 and designed to increase rigor by raising graduation requirements, has long been a controversial measure. Since its creation, there have been multiple attempts to tweak and update the curriculum to allow students more flexibility in taking the courses that are most important to them. Now, there is legislation pending before the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee that would completely rewrite the law.

Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), would eliminate several required courses while still requiring a set number of credits in core subject areas. Under the proposal, students would have to complete four credits in English language arts, four credits in math, three credits in science and three credits in social studies. Additionally, they would be required to complete four credits of electives. The only specifically required courses would be Algebra 1, geometry and civics.

Another key component of the bill is requiring each seventh grade student to create an educational development plan. The plan would focus on the student’s career goals and provide guidance toward choosing the courses that best prepare them for that path. The student’s EDP would be reviewed and revised each year. Finally, the bill eliminates the ability to create and modify a personal curriculum.

The bill has already received two committee hearings and the reaction has been mixed. There is general agreement that some changes need to be made to the MMC and that flexibility is a good thing. However, concerns have been raised about eliminating the Algebra 2, health and arts requirements. It has also been brought up that there is no good data that shows whether the MMC has really worked to increase student proficiency. Some groups have also raised concerns over eliminating the personal curriculum.

MASB has not taken an official position on SB 600. We want to hear your thoughts and concerns on this issue. We encourage you to go back to your districts and gather information on the impact these changes will have on your high school students. This feedback will help guide our position on the bill.

It is expected that the legislation will be brought up again before the Senate Committee when the Legislature returns from their fall recess.

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