Kansas City Public Schools’ standardized test scores show the district trailing the state average in math, English and science, but administrators say they are not worried because they see progress and improvement in their future.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Monday released Missouri Assessment Program test scores showing how the 528 districts and 39 charter schools across the state performed in four key academic areas.
For the Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts, the results of the statewide tests could have major impact on their accreditation. Both districts have been given only provisional accreditation by the state.
Districts strive to have elementary and middle-school students who take these MAP tests each spring score in the top two areas — proficient or advanced — in English, math, science, and social studies.
“We are looking at the number of students we have in the proficient and advanced category and that is progress for us,” said Al Tunis, the interim superintendent of the Kansas City district.
Tunis said district officials were “pleased ” with their students’ performance in language arts but were disappointed that the latest assessments did not reach the levels it worked toward in math.
Tunis said the district plans to evaluate what teachers did that worked well for students in language arts and try that approach with other subjects.
“These gains are evidence that the work put in by our staff, students, and families is having an impact,” said Jon Hile, board president of the Kansas City district. “We are also mindful that some of these results indicate a need to improve in other important subjects. We are encouraged, mindful of the hard work ahead, and we will continue to work hard to improve.”
It is not possible to compare the 2015 results with last year because the latest scores are based on a new set of tests, reflecting more rigorous standards.
Still, Kansas City reported the number of students scoring in proficient and advanced in math dropped 5 percent from last year while in language arts the numbers were up 5 percent.
State data reports show in the 2015 test that 22 percent of Kansas City students scored proficient or advanced in math while 32 percent score at that level in language arts.
Kansas City’s scores remain below the state averages of 57.4 percent proficient and advanced for English and 40.5 at that level for math.
They also lag behind the performance of many suburban districts such as Blue Springs which had nearly 78 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in English and 67.3 percent in math. Center schools had 51.4 percent of its students in the top-scoring areas in English and about 40 percent in math, while Independence schools had nearly 53 percent of its students land in the top-scoring area in English and roughly 38 percent scoring there in math.
Among other area districts, Park Hill scored 73.3 percent in the top areas in English and 62.7 percent in math, Raytown reported 49.9 percent in English and 29.9 percent in math, and Academie Lafayette was at 79.9 percent in English, and 67.1 percent in math.
Tunis said Kansas City was not alone in its math numbers sliding back. Performance in math was down statewide this year, he said. State and local education officials attributed that drop to the fact that students took MAP tests by computer for the first time this year. And they said the new tests included challenging information that had not been on previous years’ tests.
“The 2015 exams were very different assessments with tougher content based on the new Common Core academic standards,” Kansas City district officials said in a statement Monday. Examples of practice tests students took are available online.
The Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts now await the results of the Annual Performance Reports. The reports, a measure of overall performance, will be released for all districts and charter schools in October.
The Annual Performance Report gives a district points for each of several areas, including academics, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rates. But the academic portion — measure by the MAP tests — carries the bulk of the weight toward scoring at the full accreditation level. A district can get a maximum of 140 points, but needs to claim at least 70 percent of that to be fully accredited.
Kansas City missed that mark last year.
Hickman Mills, which hit the 70 percent mark last year in its pursuit of full accreditation, would be in a good position to move up from provisional accreditation if it can show continued progress. A district needs results from the same set of exams for at least two years to make concrete conclusions about academic progress.
Hickman Mills officials on Monday said they would not comment on the results of the state assessments. With 33.2 percent of Hickman Mills students proficient or advanced in English language arts and 24 percent in that area in math, the district, like Kansas City, came in significantly below the state average in those two subjects.
The percentage of elementary and middle-school students scoring proficient or advanced in English and math at some area districts and charter schools.
Kansas City: English 32.4; math 22
Blue Springs: English 77.7; math 67.3
Park Hill: English 73.3; math 62.7
Raytown: English 49.9; math 29.9
North Kansas City: English 66.1; math 53.4
Academie Lafayette: English 79.9; math 67.1
Allen Village: English 55.2; math 28.6
Alta Vista: English 41.1; math 41.7
Benjamin Banneker Academy: English 27.4; math 12.2
For more scores, including science and social studies scores, go to DESE.MO.gov.