COLUMBIA - Missouri Assessment Program test results released to the public today show declining scores in both mathematics and communication arts across the Columbia Public School District.
Midway Heights, New Haven and Ridgeway elementary schools are the only three schools out of 28 in the district to meet Missouri's state-level Adequate Yearly Progress standard. In 2007, 14 Columbia schools met the state Adequate Yearly Progress standard.
Meeting Adequate Yearly Progress - the percentage of students required to score proficient or advanced on the exam - is mandated under the
federal No Child Left Behind Act. Each state sets its own proficiency, and the act aims to have 100 percent of public school
students achieve proficiency in communication arts and mathematics by 2014, said Leigh Ann Grant-Engle, data manager at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
This year, the Missouri state-level proficiency goal for communication arts was 51 percent and mathematics was 45 percent, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Web site.
In 2007, 42.9 percent in communication arts was proficient and 35.8 percent in mathematics.
A spreadsheet released by the state department of education indicated Columbia Public Schools failed to meet the proficiency goals for both mathematics and communication arts. However, a news release from Superintendant Phyllis Chase that included the district's exact percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced showed the district meeting the state's math goal but missing the communication arts goal by half a percentage point.
Whether the school district met the math requirement is murky. While the news release from the district stated that 49.4 percent of students scored proficient or advanced, which is nearly 5 percentage points above the state requirement, the state department of education's spreadsheet said the district failed to meet requirements. It was unclear Thursday night why the discrepancy existed.
Schools that do not meet Adequate Yearly Progress and are receiving Title I funding from the federal government because they have a high concentration of financially disadvantaged students are subject to No Child Left Behind sanctions as a result of their "needs improvement" status, according to the release from Chase. Chief Academic Officer Sally Beth Lyon said families at these schools will be notified of improvement activities, such as tutoring, and will be presented with the option to transfer schools.
The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) has four measures: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. The schools where 20 percent or more of students scored below basic in communication arts are: Douglass High School, Lange Middle School and Field, West Boulevard, Cedar Ridge and Benton elementary schools.
The schools where 20 percent of students or more scored below basic in mathematics are: Douglass and Hickman high schools, Lange Middle, Oakland Junior High School and West Boulevard, Field, Benton and Parkade elementary schools.
Other important MAP data results include:
— Despite lower scores this year, Columbia students on average fared better than their peers across the state in both subject areas at all grade levels. On average, 49.4 percent of Columbia students scored proficient or advanced on the mathematics portion of the test, according to the press release issued by Chase. That number is compared to 46.7 percent of students statewide reaching the same achievement levels. Last year, Lyon said, 49.9 percent of Columbia students scored proficient or — In communication arts, Chase's release showed Columbia students scoring 50.5 percent proficient or advanced. This number is compared to 45.7 percent of students statewide scoring proficient or advanced on the communication arts portion of the exam.
— Parkade and Field elementary schools were designated as "needs improvement" for the second year. Benton, Blue Ridge and Mill Creek elementary schools are joining Parkade and Field for the first time under the "needs improvement" category.
Under No Child Left Behind, individual schools and districts as a whole are measured. As a whole, Columbia did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress in either portion of the exam, according to a spreadsheet from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Superintendent Phyllis Chase said she is concerned that almost 75 percent of districts in Missouri did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress target scores.
"This is something that needs to be looked at," she said.
In a release to media, Chase said, "Because of our high performance, we are once again on the road to be recognized as a district with distinction in performance for the fifth consecutive year. This is a tremendous accomplishment. However, we are not satisfied. We expect continuous improvement and know there is still work to do to meet this community's high expectations."
Lyon wants to look at where Columbia schools are seeing success and work to replicate that into schools needing improvement. Parkade, Chase said, is an example of a school that made the kind of progress the district wants to replicate.
"Parkade demonstrated a lot of growth this year," she said. "Our mantra is: excellence is never an accident."
Currently, high school students take the MAP tests in math during 10th grade and in communication arts during 11th grade.
Jim Morris, public information officer for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said school officials are upset that their schools get "graded" by how well the students do on the MAP.
"Too many students don't take the MAP test seriously because it doesn't matter to them," he said. "It doesn't count for grades, scholarships, etc., and therefore they don't give their best effort."
In 2009, the MAP at the high school level will no longer exist. New "end-of-course" exams will be implemented, Morris said, and the content of these exams will be more narrowly defined and cover only material from a specific academic year.
The major difference between the MAP test and the new end-of-course exam is that the MAP test covers material that could have been taught
over the course of many years. The new exams will cover material from a single year. It is largely up to the local school district whether the exam will be part of a student's grade, Morris said. "The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommends the grade counts for a portion of the final grade," he said.
Columbia School Board member Ines Segert said she is not surprised by the poor test results across the board.
"Am I surprised? No," she said. "Unhappy? Yes."
Segert, who has for some time been critical of the district's math curriculum and made that a central issue during her election bid this spring, has been disappointed with the lack of action the district has taken concerning upper-level math scores in general recently. "The district has been denying any problems," she said. "This year they can't avoid it."
The overall decrease in the district for both math and communication arts does not look good for Columbia students, Segert said.
"High school scores are declining," she said, "but elementary scores are more in particular."
Even though Columbia has maintained higher average scores on the MAP test than the state this year, the gap is closing. Chase said Columbia students began scoring higher on the MAP test than the state and now other districts are performing better. While state MAP scores increase, Columbia is on a decreasing trend.