Missouri Aptitude Test scores for 2003 fell in more areas than they improved.
“I am disappointed,” said Kent King, Missouri’s education commissioner. “We didn’t see the kind of growth that I would have hoped and anticipated that we would see.”
Few grade levels improved in communication arts, science and social studies. Although mathematics performance improved considerably in the eighth and 10th grades, these positive results were offset by science and social studies percentiles, which dropped dramatically.
“For the past five years we have seen slow but steady progress in nearly all areas,” said Joe Morris, director of public information for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “It’s quite a switch in what had been a steady upward trend.”
Missouri has held high standards for proficiency since the MAP test was first administered five years ago, Morris said.
This spring, the Missouri State Board of Education voted to keep state standards high even though the No Child Left Behind Act would have allowed the board to lower proficiency benchmarks.
“A kid who scores proficiently on the Missouri test is still above typical grade level,” Morris said.
Overall, the 2003 scores show that Missouri students are scoring above the majority of students nationwide in all academic areas.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to achieve 100 percent proficiency in communication arts and mathematics by 2014.
In general, Missouri students met adequate yearly progress goals toward the No Child Left Behind objective. However, Asians, blacks, Hispanics and those with limited English abilities did not meet progress targets in communication arts and mathematics.
“Hopefully this will cause us to do something different and pay more attention to certain groups of kids,” King said.
More than 500,000 Missouri students in grades three, four, seven, eight, 10, and 11 took the MAP test earlier this year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to put out district information by the first week of September, Morris said.
The release of MAP test scores coincides with an announcement from the Missouri Department of Higher Education that students in the state are scoring above the national average on the ACT, a college entry examination.
Students who complete coursework suggested by the ACT’s administrators score higher. Those who finished this curriculum earned an average of 22.5 compared with 19.6 for those that did not. The number of students graduating in Missouri without completing the suggested curriculum is growing. Despite this, Missouri is still above the national average of 20.8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.