DESE releases 2015 MAP testing results

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test results Tuesday, the first set of results since major changes to the MAP testing system.

2015 MAP tests were taken entirely online for students in grades 3-8, according to DESE. The change, coupled with increased standards for Math and English testing, meant 2015 results could not accurately be compared to 2014 MAP results, according to the department.

In English language arts, 5th-graders tested the strongest, with 59.1 percent testing proficient or advanced. Under the old test standard last year, the same age group tested at just over 50 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts.

The strongest mathematics scores were among third graders. Fifty-two percent tested proficient of advanced. The percentage of students who tested proficient or advanced went down with every grade level for mathematics.

Eighth-graders tested the lowest in mathematics, with 28.3 percent performing in the proficient or advanced category, students enrolled in Algebra I were not included in that percentage. DESE said 20 percent of students take Algebra I before high school, and they were not included in the math results to avoid double-testing those students.

The only results that could be compared to 2014 MAP results were science test results for 5th and 8th graders. Both grades were down in the percentage of students who tested proficient or advanced compared to 2014.

Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said, "These new standards raised the expectation for learning in Missouri. The results reflect the time our teachers put into preparing for this transition over the past several years, and their effort in providing effective instruction for students each day in our schools."

DESE officials based their expectations on a multi-state field test conducted using a sample of students in the spring of 2014. Missouri students performed better than results from the multi-state field test in every category except 8th grade math.

When asked during a news conference how DESE officials can know if improvements are being made if testing standards keep changing, Vandeven said, "I think what you're pointing to is the importance for ensuring that we have time to transition to new standards, and that's really what we did. We look at standards and then the tests measure what the revised standards include, and so with this particular assessment, districts have been transitioning now for five years."

Vandeven said the purpose of the standard revision was to ensure that state education standards were being accounted for.

"When this last revision was put into play, it was actually coming from business and colleges sat down and said 'how do we ensure that our kids are coming to us ready to be successful, college-ready, career-ready?'" She said. "We looked at those standards and back-mapped, what would a senior need to know all the way down to a kindergarten student and we put those Missouri learning standards in place."

Vandeven said it's possible yet another revision of testing standards could be on their way to comply with current legislation.

When asked how DESE could determine if the revisions were effective, given that expectations were based on a multi-state field test, Vandeven said, "Missouri came together to talk about what we wanted to represent in the Missouri learning standards."

"We'll be moving away from common CORE state standards with the revised standards that come forward in October, very focused to Missouri," Vandeven said. "There is a need for standardized results, there is also a great need for local control and local results, on decisions that are being made at the local level."

DESE officials said Monday they were very pleased with the results, which they said reflected improved access to "21st century learning tools."