Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell is bragging about students this week after getting a close look at how they performed on 2016 Missouri Assessment Program tests.
“Our students are climbing upwards, and they’ve come a long way, but we have some opportunities for growth,” Bedell said Monday. “We have a great academic plan, and I am optimistic that we can continue to make growth in these areas.”
Scores showed Kansas City district students made progress in English language arts, math and social studies, but the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced, the two top achievement levels, slipped a few points.
Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2016 results Thursday. Students in grades three through eight take the MAP exams each spring, and high school students are given end-of-course exams about the same time. The results are compiled into the Missouri Progress Index, which measures achievement for all students in the areas of English language arts, math, social studies and science.
This year, the language arts assessment was changed. While all five grade levels that took the test showed improvement, with scores overall rising 2.1 percentage points, Bedell said that “grades seven and eight will require additional attention in order to make progress.”
The 2016 MAP grade-level exams in math also were changed this year. In addition, the scores that define the four levels of achievement — below basic, basic, proficient and advanced — have also changed. Those new standards were approved by the State Board of Education in July.
State educators expect districts to have at least 75 percent of their students scoring in the proficient or advanced levels in each subject area tested by 2020.
This year overall, 35.2 percent of Kansas City Public Schools students scored proficient or advanced in English, 23.8 percent landed in the top areas in math, 44.9 percent hit the mark in social studies and 22.8 percent in science.
Kansas City school officials said the district has hired two specialists who will focus on improving results in science classrooms, one specialist for the elementary schools and one for the secondary schools.
“I am seeing growth, and I feel really good,” said Vickie Murillo, chief academic and accountability officer for the district. “I’m feeling really optimistic about where we are going.”
Student achievement on the MAP and end-of-course exams are among several factors — including attendance, graduation rates and college and career readiness — that are used in school districts’ annual performance reports to determine accreditation under the Missouri School Improvement Program.
Statewide averages on MAP tests by grade were released earlier.
Score averages across the state showed an increased percentage of students scoring in the top areas in language arts and math this year over last year, although the tests were different this year. Social studies remained flat at 63.3 percent, but the statewide average for students scoring proficient and advanced in science fell from 57.1 percent last year to 52.1 percent in 2016. In English language arts, 62.9 percent of Missouri students scored proficient or advanced, and in math, 48.6 percent score at the top levels.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to release district annual progress reports later this fall.
For the Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts, the results of the statewide tests could have a major impact on their accreditation. Both districts have been given only provisional accreditation by the state.
In Hickman Mills, 38.3 percent of students scored in the top two levels in language arts. In math, 25 percent were at the top, 28 percent in science and 52.1 percent in social studies.
“Despite a more rigorous assessment, we are pleased to see a positive trend in English language arts results over the last three years, with greater percentages of students demonstrating proficiency,” said Dennis Carpenter, Hickman Mills superintendent. “We know the work we are doing to make literacy a priority at all levels, as well as the emphasis on using culturally relevant texts, will only continue this momentum.”
Hickman Mills school officials said their schools will continue to focus on math, a subject where they have seen “inconsistent trends in as the standards and assessments remain in flux,” Carpenter said.
Still, the district is optimistic about regaining full accreditation, given that the rating is determined by more than academics.
Katie Roe, director of professional development and college and career readiness for the district, said district officials working toward full accreditation are concerned more broadly with how students are being served, rather than looking only at “how kids are performing on that single test in May.”
Some other districts in the Kansas City area had more of their students scoring in the top areas:
▪ In Grandview, 53.8 percent of students scored in the top two areas in language arts. In math, 37.2 percent hit the mark, 39.3 percent in science and 28.6 percent in social studies.
▪ The Center district had 52.5 percent of its students scoring in the top areas in language arts, 44.9 percent in math, 39 percent in science and 45.1 percent in social studies.
▪ ▪ The Independence district had 55.2 percent of students in the top areas in language arts, 39.6 percent in math, 50 percent in science, and 67.7 percent in social studies.
▪ North Kansas City had 67.3 percent of students in the top areas in language arts, 59.1 percent in math, 60.3 percent in science and 64.9 percent in social studies.
▪ In the Liberty district the percentages were even higher, with 75.9 percent in the top levels in language arts, 64.2 percent in math, 62.2 percent in science, and 76.1 percent in social studies.
▪ The Missouri Charter Public School Association also released average MAP scores for those schools in Kansas City. The average for students scoring in the top two areas for language arts was 49.9 percent. For math it was 38 percent, science 33 percent, and social studies 50 percent.