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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Missouri approves new lower testing standards

Friday, January 13, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The state Education Board lowered the grading guidelines for some of Missouri's standardized achievement tests Thursday, meaning some students should be able to achieve better scores on mathematics and communication arts tests given this spring.

Educators who developed the new standards stressed that the tests will remain rigorous while the grading scales will become more reasonable.

The realignment was prompted by a 2004 state law requiring the Missouri Assessment Program standards be changed so that they "meet, but do not exceed" those used by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In some instances, such as in elementary school communication arts, about one-third of students already received "proficient" or better ratings on both the Missouri and national tests. Under the revised state standards, it's expected about 44 percent of third- or fourth-graders would score "proficient" or "advanced" on the communication arts test.

In other categories, such as junior high math, a greater percentage of Missouri students had scored "proficient" or better on the national test than on the state test.

To more closely match the national test, Missouri's five tiers of achievement levels had to be winnowed to four. While the terms for the lower levels changed, the revised MAP test still uses "proficient" and "advanced" to cover the top two tiers.

The revised standards also will have an affect on how schools fare under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires all children to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 but lets states define their proficiency standards.

By making it easier for students to achieve proficient ratings, the revised standards could help schools avoid penalties.

"In certain areas, the standards were set at a very high level" under the previous guidelines, King said. Although now easier to meet, "we haven't lowered standards to the point where kids aren't going to get a quality education."

Hedgpeth said the old standards were so stringent that one of her students who received perfect scores on ACT and SAT college entrance exams nonetheless scored merely "proficient" instead of "advanced" on two MAP test categories.

Middle school math teacher Curtis Wren, of the Hazelwood School District, said he helped dissuade others involved in creating the new math standards from lowering them even further. He said the percentage of students expected to score in the new categories of advanced, proficient, basic and below basic more closely align with his on A, B, C and below grading structure.

To more closely match the national test, Missouri's five tiers of achievement levels had to be winnowed to four. While the terms for the lower levels changed, the revised MAP test still uses "proficient" and "advanced" to cover the top two tiers.

The revised standards also will have an affect on how schools fare under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires all children to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 but lets states define their proficiency standards. Some public schools that don't make satisfactory progress toward that goal could face penalties.

By making it easier for students to achieve proficient ratings, the revised standards could help schools avoid penalties.

However, the standards are being implemented along with a federal requirement to expand standardized testing in math and communication arts to occur in every grade from third through eighth. Previously, Missouri tested students in communication arts only in grades three and seven and tested them in math only in grades four and eight.

By expanding the tests to all grades, King said some schools could be at greater risk of failing to make adequate yearly progress under the federal standards.

That's because the federal government lists an entire school as falling short if any subset of students -- grouped by factors such as ethnicity, low-income levels and limited English skills -- falls short of the goal. Those requirements kick in only when a certain number of students are in a category. By expanding the test to more grades of students, some schools that previously didn't test enough students to qualify for the subset requirements now could do so, he said.


2005 Missouri Assessment Program scores

Math and Communication Arts scores by grade level for Southeast Missouri school districts with kindergarten through 12th grades. Scores represent the percent of students who scored proficient or higher on the MAP test.

Cape Girardeau

3/438.6 25.9
7/813.833.0
10/1118.929.9

Chaffee

3/441.043.5
7/83.920.5
10/116.94.4

Delta

3/414.316.1
7/812.526.5
10/119.54.8

Oran

3/442.939.3
7/813.632.0
10/1132.014.3

Scott City

3/424.432.1
7/813.732.1
10/1120.023.9

Kelly

3/445.523.7
7/83.411.7
10/1111.323.6

Woodland

3/425.613.9
7/88.635.0
10/1115.315.7

Jackson

3/440.516.2
7/820.341.3
10/1121.122.4

Leopold

3/464.735.7
7/834.659.1
10/1112.547.1

Meadow Heights

3/427.158.1
7/84.128.6
10/112.118.2

Oak Ridge

3/444.838.5
7/812.928.1
10/1114.83.0

Source: Department of Secondary Education


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