Columbia schools record uneven MAP test scores

Superintendent says schools will use the results as part of their ‘improvement plans.’
Sunday, September 7, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:55 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Missouri Assessment Program scores released Friday show mixed results for Columbia’s public schools.

Phyllis Chase, superintendent of the Columbia Public School District, said she was pleased with the progress students made on the assessment — known as MAP — but was also aware of the categories where improvements were not made. MAP measures a variety of subjects — math, communication arts, social studies and science.

“We have identified those categories where students didn’t show gains and have already implemented improvement plans to impact them,” Chase said.

Chase said her greatest concern was that there are still differences among groups of students.

Although there were increases in most MAP categories, more than half of Columbia schools failed to meet the new requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Under the act, students are measured in 10 groups by ethnicity, economic status, English proficiency and disabilities. Scores in math and communication arts are used to determine whether every demographic is making “adequate yearly progress.”

On average, Columbia tends to be above the state in both categories measured under the act, Chase said.

Susan Fales, principal of Ridgeway Elementary School, said the school certainly worked toward increasing its numbers. Ridegway’s proficiency rates increased substantially in communication arts, science and social studies.

“We’ve been working hard on the writing process,” Fales said. Ridgeway is teaching its children to express themselves and to understand the concepts they are using by giving complete answers in writing, she said.

Fourth-grade math rates, however, dropped about 30 percent. Fales said that the school will look at the math scores to see why they dropped and will examine what was done differently from previous years.

It’s hard to compare testing from year to year because the testing groups change constantly, Fales said.

Mary Paxton Keeley Elementary School had a positive first year of MAP scores with more than half of its students being proficient or advanced in three of four categories, falling half a percent short in fourth-grade math.

In terms of using the tests scores, Chase said, “Our teachers realize test scores are one of many ways to influence instruction, and the scores will be be utilized in an informed way.”

Larry Jones, principal of Two Mile Prairie Elementary School, said the school surpassed the proficiency goals set by the state. Two Mile Prairie increased its percentage of children testing proficient in communication arts and social studies but suffered drops in math and science.

Jones said he is particularly pleased with the scores in communication arts, which have been going up consistently over the past few years.

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