According to results from the 2014 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP), the statewide average rate of proficiency has fallen in English language arts (ELA), mathematics and science. ELA and math grade-level assessments are given in grades 3 through 8. Despite an overall decline in average scores, more than 300 districts and charter schools in Missouri saw gains in either math or ELA.
To ensure that 2014 Missouri Assessment Program results are valid and reliable, the Department required the testing vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill, to conduct a formal analysis of its process and results. The state also contracted with an outside assessment research company to review all data.
There does not appear to be one consistent reason for the decline in scores; rather, there appears to be a combination of factors that might have contributed to the overall drop in the state averages.
First, Missouri refreshed the testing form for the first time since 2010. Statewide testing procedures usually require that test forms be refreshed with items of equal difficulty each year. Because of budget constraints, Missouri used the same test form for four straight years: 2010-2013. With an improved budget situation, a new test form was possible. While the 2014 test is not more difficult, it is common to see a drop in scores when test forms are refreshed after a number of years. Test items in the 2014 assessment were drawn from an existing pool common to both the previous standards and the Missouri Learning Standards in English language arts and math.
Another possibility for the lower scores this year might be adjustments to curriculum as school districts are moving to higher state standards. The Missouri Learning Standards define the knowledge and skills students need in each grade level and course for success in college, other post-secondary training and careers. These grade-level and course-level expectations are aligned to the Show-Me Standards.
Finally, many districts missed weeks of school because of harsh winter weather. In fact, more than 23% of all districts reduced their actual days of attendance by 10 or more days. Although the analysis shows no definite pattern for districts with large numbers of snow days, scores from individual districts may have been affected by make-up schedules.
The percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels in ELA dropped from 2013 levels, with the exception of 7th graders:
Percentages of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels in mathematics were somewhat higher than those in ELA, although they still dropped from 2013, except among 8th graders:
Science assessments are given only to 5th and 8th graders. Results were mixed:
End-of-course (EOC) exams are administered to high school students. Results were again mixed, with notable gains in Algebra II:
MAP tests are administered yearly at all public schools in Missouri. Results are one of the measures used to develop school- and district-level Annual Performance Reports (APRs). The APR is the foundation for determining a district’s accreditation classification, based on five areas: academic achievement, subgroup achievement, high school or college and career readiness, attendance, and graduation rate. The 2014 APRs are scheduled to be released August 29.
To learn more about the Missouri School Improvement Program, visit the website at http://dese.mo.gov/quality-schools/mo-school-improvement-program/msip-5.