Five of 18 area school districts meet No Child Left Behind goals in latest MAP tests

Sunday, August 7, 2011 ~ Updated 2:24 PM
Callie Callis begins her end-of-course assessments alongside fellow students in the library of Cape Central High School in this March 7, 2011 file photo. Schools recently learned how students performed on last school year's MAP tests. (Laura Simon)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that five districts, not two, met overall targets.

The majority of area school districts failed this year to meet the proficiency targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Missouri Assessment Program scores were released Thursday, and only five of 18 districts in Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Perry, Scott and Stoddard counties -- Advance, Bell City, Kelso, Leopold and Oran -- met all targets this year for adequate yearly progress in communication arts and math set by No Child Left Behind. In 2010, five met all targets. Adequate yearly progress is figured using annual proficiency targets, attendance and graduation rates and subgroup participation rates.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the number of school buildings able to achieve adequate yearly progress goals declined since last year, from 35.3 percent to 18.1 percent. Only 16 percent of Missouri districts met the yearly progress target.

Proficiency targets in Missouri under No Child Left Behind rise around 8 percent per year and will continue rising until they reach 100 percent in 2014. In 2010, the targets were 67.4 percent in communication arts and 63.3 percent in math. This year, the targets were 75.5 percent in communication arts and 72.5 percent in math.

School administrators say MAP scores are important in making plans for instruction but don't give a good idea of how districts and schools are improving and answering the requirements of No Child Left Behind.

"The preliminary MAP scores are superficial to us," said Dr. Sherry Copeland, assistant superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District. "They don't tell us anything other than that end result. While the tests are hugely important to us because of No Child Left Behind, it is a rearview-mirror look. We are focused right now on where our kids are the day they start school this year."

In the Cape Girardeau School District, one school, Blanchard Elementary, surpassed the targets. Third-and fourth-grade students scored 76.7 percent proficient or advanced in communication arts and 77.6 proficient or advanced in math.

In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress, all subgroups in a school population must score at or above the proficiency target.

Copeland said overall the score of the district is comparable to the state average, although the district did see a slight decrease in scores in communication arts since 2010. The district had a slight increase in math scores. Scores statewide rose by 1 percentage point in communication arts and 1.5 percentage points in math.

District curriculum coordinator Theresa Hinkebein said a slight change in the MAP tests this year may factor into why the district's students scored lower in communication arts.

According to Hinkebein, Cape Girardeau students who had a writing prompt included in the communication arts section of the MAP tests have scored better. In the prompt, students are asked to write a first draft and a final draft. This year, the state completely cut the writing performance events because of the cost of scoring.

Hinkebein said the district won't know for sure that was a factor, however, until there is time to review an item analysis to be released in the fall. Copeland said she expects to see an increase in scores in communication arts when a new test including a performance event is released in a few years.

Dr. Rita Fisher, assistant superintendent of the Jackson School District, said she believes in having the curriculum in schools aligned to state standards but that no matter how much the district improves scores, it can never reach 100 percent proficiency. But it will continue to see improvement, she said.

Two Jackson elementary schools, Orchard and North, met adequate yearly progress standards this year. North Elementary made enough improvement since last year to delay further sanctions, as did the high school and middle school.

Fisher said she is glad No Child Left Behind has caused school districts to be more accountable for student success.

"But," she said, "when you're accountable, you also have to be realistic."

"This is just one picture," Fisher said. "One day. You have to put that in perspective also, but at the same time we take it very seriously."

In the Scott City School District, proficiency targets in communication arts were made last year in the high school but not in the elementary school. This year is the opposite; elementary scores rose above targets in both categories, while at the high school, neither category was met. The middle school also missed both targets.

According to DESE, percentages of students in the state in grades three through 12 testing proficient or advanced rose in all grade levels and all subjects except for eighth-grade mathematics. Those scores stayed relatively flat after rising the past two years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

eragan@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

614 E. Adams St., Jackson, MO

3000 Main St., Scott City, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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