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Vol. 46, No. 22C
March 30, 2012

Education Department Prepares for Missouri Assessment Program

More than 1.3 million tests are given each year in Missouri

As schools prepare for their annual MAP testing this spring, Missouri education officials are committed to assuring that the state's student assessment system provides an accurate measure of academic achievement.

More than 1.3 million Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests are given annually to more than 600,000 students across the state.

"Schools in Missouri have done an excellent job administering MAP testing every year," said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro.  "School officials take this responsibility very seriously, and educators conduct the testing with great care." 

 A recent article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch highlighted several districts that have followed testing protocols correctly. 

“These are districts that have followed procedure and self-reported violations.  They then performed followed-up investigations with appropriate disciplinary action," Nicastro said.

On occasion, educators have been disciplined or lost their jobs for not following testing procedures.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has had a quality assurance program for MAP testing in place for more than 20 years to ensure the integrity of the testing process.  School districts are required to report testing irregularities and the action taken by the district.  The Department provides training for school staff to ensure the test is administered properly. 

In 2011, the Department received 42 reports of testing irregularities, while 69 reports were received in 2010.  Over the past five years, the Department received an average of 54 reports of irregularities per year. The vast majority of the testing irregularities reported to the Department are reported by the schools themselves.

MAP test scores are used by the Department to assess student learning and to ensure school and district accountability.  The Department is continually refining its procedures to make certain the test provides an accurate record of student achievement in Missouri, state officials said.  In light of recent reports of irregularities in student testing nationwide, officials from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are reviewing procedures and emphasizing the need for vigilance to local schools. 

From 1998 to 2009, the Department employed approximately 25 staff members to serve as testing monitors. These monitors conducted unannounced visits in schools during the testing period to observe the process.  Funding in the state budget for the positions was reduced in 2010 and eliminated entirely in 2011.  The Department currently is exploring other options.

"Assessment is an important part of our education system, and it's an important part of improving instruction for our students," Nicastro said. "We are confident schools will continue to be vigilant in their administration of the MAP test, and we urge teachers to encourage students to do their best on the tests."