There’s a war raging in Lansing over the future of academic testing in Michigan.

Last fall, Michigan school kids took what was supposed to be their last MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) test, ever. The state was pushing forward with a new kind of assessment, based on a set of standards called Common Core.

State Republicans weren’t so thrilled, for lots of reasons. We’ll get to those in a minute.

heritage exploratory academy kids and project
Heritage Exploratory Academy

We've written here about some new thinking on "grit" and how to set a kid up to have enough to make a difference in their future success. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Today we have an update from a story we brought you in January. For that story, a documentary we called "The Big Test," I spent six weeks following a third-grade class at Congress Elementary in Grand Rapids. I watched as students got ready to take the state-mandated MEAP test for the first time. Students took the test in October. But the results of the test didn’t become public until last week.

So now, we're going back to Congress to see how students did.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

 The big test is coming. 

"I don’t even want to take it, says Musa, a third grader at Congress Elementary in Grand Rapids. "I'm not a big fan of tests."

Musa carries himself like an adult: hands casually in his pockets, shoulders back.  He stands on the edge of a cracked asphalt basketball court.

It’s picture day at Congress, and Musa has on a red t-shirt with black sleeves. He says it’s for special occasions, only.  

On the shirt, the words, “Destined for greatness," are laid out across Musa's chest.

"Did you pick it?" I ask him about the shirt.

"Yeah," he says.

"Why did you like what it says?" I ask.

"Because I didn’t want it to be something bad," he said. "So I put ‘Destined for Greatness,’ so people think I’m good, not bad."

Michigan Department of Education

Race. We're going to be talking a lot about race and racial disparities over the coming months. I, for one, am working on an hour-long special about race and culture...so it's been on my mind a lot.

What does it mean to be born black in Michigan? Latino? Native American? Those are the questions we're grappling with here at State of Opportunity.