State: Smarter Balanced tests only viable option

The state education department says Michigan should stick with its plan to switch to Smarter Balanced standardized tests next school year because they're the only "viable option" at this time.

The new tests are intended to align with uniform national Common Core education standards being adopted in Michigan.

In a report to lawmakers Monday, the state also recommends starting a new bidding process to see if more test providers can meet Michigan's needs for the 2016-17 academic year and beyond.

Legislators recently let Michigan spend money on Common Core benchmarks again but put off whether to let the planned Smarter Balanced replacement for the Michigan Education Assessment Program tests move forward.

The education agency warns that reversing course now will result in no standardized tests next year, violating the law.