Average Missouri test scores down from previous years

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2014 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) results Tuesday. 

The results show an overall decline in average scores. However, more than 300 districts and charter schools across the state improved in either math or English-language arts. 

"We had a slight decline in statewide scores this year, and that's just on average. So some districts went up, some went down. It's just kind of a mixed picture, but statewide, average scores went down," DESE Communications Coordinator Sarah Potter said. 

Results show the percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels in ELA dropped from last year's totals at every grade level except seventh grade, which saw a slight increase. In math, each grade level also showed a decline in the percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels, with the exception of eighth grade. 

In science, which is only given to two grade levels, fifth grade percentages dropped by nearly five percent, but eighth grade scores actually improved by the same margin. 

End of Course exams results were also mixed. However, most subjects saw an increase in the number of students who scored at the proficient or advanced level. 

In terms of grade levels, Potter said third and fourth grade decreased more than others, but after having scores analyzed, she said there are no irregularities and several possible factors for the overall decline in scores. 

DESE officials said changes in curriculum to meet higher state standards contributed slightly to the decline, but Potter said the biggest factor was changes in this year's test. 

"It's very common when you've used the same test form for years when you actually switch to a new form to see a drop in score,s and that's the main thing happening this year. You have folks getting really good at a test because you're giving the same test every year," Potter said. "Well now we're giving a new test because we actually have the money to give a new test and it's very common to see a drop in scores when you do that." 

Potter ruled out snow days as a possible contribution to the lower test scores statwide, although it could have still impacted individual districts. 

"In all those districts that missed a lot of days and weren't able to make them up, some were up, some were down, so there really wasn't a consistent picture there," Potter said. "But just on an individual level, it made a difference for some schools."

Columbia Public Schools officials said districts cannot report on their numbers until the end of the month because no specific district results are available yet.