Grading the Schools
Now a national study is providing a progress report on how the program is doing. KOMU's Ashley Clark talked to Columbia school officials to see how their MAP test scores measured up.
School is almost out, which means report cards are soon to follow. But for the Columbia Public Schools, when it comes to test scores, the grades are already here.
From 2002 and 2005 the percentage of students at the proficient level or above in math is up five percent for fourth graders, two percent for eighth graders, and six percent for tenth graders. Columbia schools say No Child Left Behind helped improve the scores. They say the program forces them to make the MAP test a priority.
"It has forced us to sort of stop, look at the test, how can we best prepare our kids. And I think any time you focus on whatever it is, you're going to see some improvement," said Kathy Ritter, Rock Bridge Assistant Principal.
"We have more tightly aligned our standards and our curriculum so that when we teach our Columbia Public Schools curriculum, we are teaching to those standards," said Dr. Cheryl Cozette, Columbia Schools Assistant Superintendent.
Although standardized test scores have improved over the past few years under No Child Left Behind, many in the Columbia Public School district still say the program has its drawbacks.
"We're not taking into consideration an individual student who has greatly improved through the work of their teachers, but in that end result, they're just compared to all other students. So that's not really a fair way to assess all kids," said Ritter.
School officials want to create a way to make the grading system fair to all kids.
"We are in the process of developing an additional accountability system that would allow us to look at more than one measure of our student's progress," said Dr. Cozette.
Dr. Cozette thinks the map test isn't perfect because it doesn't measure different student abilities, like writing.