Board members discuss MAP test scores

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Disparities in Missouri Assessment Program test scores among Cape Girardeau schools have led individual schools to develop a plan of action based on their annual performances.

Cape Girardeau School Board members held a roundtable discussion with administrators and teachers from each school Monday night to discuss disaggregated results from the 2002 MAP tests.

Representatives from the elementary and secondary schools have spent several weeks analyzing the disaggregate data, which breaks down the scores by gender, race/ethnicity and learning disabilities.

Each school established strengths and weakness in each MAP subject area based on test results from the past three years.

A common concern among all of the schools is closing the achievement gap between minority and white students.

"There has been some closing of that gap, but not enough closing," said Dr. Mike Cowan, principal of Central High School.

Students at Central High School scored at or above state averages in nine out of 10 comparisons of students in the top two (advanced and proficient) and bottom two (progressing and step 1) MAP score levels.

The high school's two biggest areas of concern were math and science scores, although those are concerns shared by schools across Missouri, Cowan said.

Cape Girardeau's elementary schools saw a wide range of results from the 2002 MAP scores.

Overall, Jefferson Elementary was the poorest performing school in the district.

Principal Mark Cook said scores at Jefferson may have been lowered by a higher number of students with learning disabilities completing the test.

Required by state

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires 95 percent of all students to complete the test, regardless of learning disabilities.

The remaining five percent are labeled level not determined, usually reserved for students with learning disabilities who were unable to complete the test.

Cook said Jefferson had no level not determined students in 2002, which could have resulted in lower scores. Cook also said Jefferson's high mobility rate, students moving in and out of the school, impacts MAP results.

In an effort to combat the low scores, Cook said teachers at Jefferson are reviewing curriculum to make sure necessary skills are covered at each grade level.

Teachers are also preparing their own assessment items in formats similar to MAP so that students will be familiar with the type of questions involved.

At Alma Schrader, Franklin, Clippard and Blanchard elementary schools, communication arts was the biggest concern.

Administrators from each of those schools said they believe the low communication arts scores will eventually be solved with the new balanced literacy approach to teaching reading.

"I really feel balanced literacy is the answer to our low communication arts scores," said Dr. Barbara Kohlfield, principal at Blanchard Elementary.

Each school said they were focusing on professional development for teachers, providing feedback to students after test results are received and increasing parental involvement in MAP.

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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