The adequate yearly progress goals on Missouri’s standardized tests, the Missouri Assessment Program, will be lowered, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Friday. Columbia public schools said they won’t be affected by the decision.
AYP goals are standards set by the state in communication arts and math that public schools must meet by performing at proficient levels or higher on MAP tests. Each state sets its own standards for these goals.
The state had concerns that many public schools would not be able to meet the current standards, said Jim Morris, a spokesman for the Education Department.
“(This is) a target that’s more realistic,” he said.
Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Columbia Public School District, said improvement measures for the district were in place long before the decision from the state department.
“This is not going to make a difference in our strategy,” Cozette said.
She said teachers and administrators can review MAP indexes for each school by grade to assess where they are succeeding and where changes need to be made, possibly by modifying teaching styles or delivery models.
State education officials became concerned that under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools receiving federal assistance and not meeting the goals at a proficient level or higher will be at risk for cuts in funding. The state then requested that standards set in 2003 be re-evaluated and lowered.
Previously in communication arts, the goal was for 38.8 percent of students to meet proficient or advanced levels. That number was lowered to 26.6 percent for the upcoming year. The aim for Math scores dropped from 31.1 percent to 17.5 percent.
Morris also said that in the spring of 2006, large-scale changes will be made to the direction of state testing and that lowering AYP levels now will give schools more time to acclimate to the adjustments that will be occurring over the next year.
Columbia’s scores needed to improve significantly at all grade levels under the old AYP goals for communication arts. Now only the high school level scores in this subject area need to increase, as only 22.5 percent of 11th grade students are performing at proficiency or excelling. In math, elementary and high school level students need to improve as well under new targets. Only 13.9 percent of fourth grade students and 15.2 percent of 10th grade students meet the new goals.
Cozette said MAP scores and standardized tests in general are only one aspect of student success and that the district will continue to operate on a “multi-measure” front that focuses on all aspects of student learning.