Testing in Missouri: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2008-2009 Missouri used the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) to test students in grades 3 through 8 in math and communication arts, and in grades 5 and 8 in science. Districts had the option to give assessments in social studies in grades 4 and 8 on a voluntary basis. Started in 2008-2009, Missouri implemented End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments to test high school students in English I, algebra I, and biology. Additional subject assessments will be introduced in 2009-2010.
The MAP is a standards-based test that measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Missouri. The MAP also includes sections from the TerraNova survey, a national norm-referenced test, which is used to compare how well students are performing compared to their peers across the country.
How are the tests scored?
MAP tests are scored according to four levels of achievement: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
The results for math, communication arts and science are included on GreatSchools profiles for grades 3 through 8. For schools with high school level students, the results for algebra I, English I, and biology are included on the school test results pages. For each subject, the combined percentage of students scoring at or above the proficient level is displayed.
Why do the tests matter?
Although Missouri does not mandate that schools use test results as a basis for grade-level promotion or retention, individual schools may take MAP performance into account when making such decisions. In general, performance on state tests indicates whether students are making sufficient progress toward mastery of state content standards. Standardized test results that are below proficient are one factor that might indicate the need for additional assistance.
Missouri uses MAP results, along with other factors, to rate school districts as accredited, provisionally accredited or unaccredited. Districts that do not earn accreditation may receive additional funds and support from the state to implement improvement plans. Additionally, low-performing schools may be eligible to receive federal and/or state money for tutoring or may have school transfer options.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for your school. If your child scores below the standards, contact the teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home. If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you can do to help.
A few parting words
Test results don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school, although they can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.
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