CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 51

July 15, 2011

Commissioner Applauds Teachers and School Leaders for MAP Test Administration

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro expressed her appreciation today to school testing coordinators who oversee administration of the Missouri Assessment Program throughout the state.  Commonly known as “MAP tests,” the annual assessment program involves nearly 602,000 students in grades 3-12 and thousands of teachers and school administrators.

“We are very pleased that this year’s administration of the MAP was again conducted smoothly and professionally across the state,” Nicastro said.  “It is no small feat to administer statewide exams with such a high level of security and fairness.”

The MAP tests are designed to see how well students have learned in core subjects such as mathematics, communication arts and science.  Academic benchmarks are based on statewide learning expectations for each course and grade level.

Nicastro credited the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s new online training program for test coordinators and examiners for the high level of consistency in test administration.  She also noted the success of a new quality-assurance system enacted this year to make sure random classroom observation visits and interviews take place.

The tests are considered high-stakes for schools since results weigh heavily in meeting state and federal accountability requirements.  Test results also help parents and communities see how well their students are learning compared to state standards.

Testing irregularities occasionally occur that could provide an unfair advantage to students, according to state education officials.  Suspected testing irregularities can be reported to the Department by anyone but are typically reported by school administrators, teachers and parents.  Students and concerned citizens also have reported possible infractions. In most cases, the incidents are deemed accidental, such as a forgotten poster on the wall.  If an unfair advantage is determined, the test scores are not counted and the teacher could be subject to additional training or disciplinary measures.

Although rare, willful teacher misconduct could result in the loss of employment and jeopardize the offender’s teaching certificate.  The willful attempt to influence test scores at the district level is even rarer in Missouri.  In 2005, an independent audit of the amplified test scores from the unaccredited Wellston School District contributed to the results being thrown out and the district’s eventual closure.

“The Department and the State Board of Education are grateful to the many professional educators and administrators, as well as parents, students and others, who help ensure the integrity of the Missouri Assessment Program,” Nicastro said.  “We work hard to ensure our assessment and accountability system follows all established protocols."

Preliminary MAP test results will be released to the public on Aug. 4.

(This news release has been revised to reflect a change in the public release date from Aug. 3 to Aug. 4 and a change in the year of the independent audit from 2004 to 2005.)