SIKESTON -- When it comes to analyzing the Missouri Assessment Program Test results released nearly a week ago by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, several local school officials admit it's not as clear-cut as one may think.
"Our scores were down this year and we don't really know the reason for that," noted East Prairie R-2 Superintendent Scott Downing.
Despite Hearnes Elementary being placed on the state "needing improvement" list, Charleston R-1 Superintendent Kevin Miller said the district's very pleased with some of their scores.
"High school scores increased in some areas. Our elementary scores basically held their own, and we're somewhat disappointed in junior high scores," Miller said.
Miller said the district will look closely at the curriculum and make some changes this year.
"It's an ongoing struggle, but we're committed to giving our all," Miller said.
Scott County Central Elementary's scores improved this year, but Scott County Central Superintendent Jo Anne Northern said there's obviously some concern with the high school -- which didn't make "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) for the second consecutive year.
Scott Central High School, a Title I school, met AYP in communication arts, but did not in math.
"This is an area we are going to concentrate on and work to turn that in the other direction," Northern said, adding the school will focus on high school tutoring.
Northern thinks the state should make the tests accountable where the older students' MAP scores are used somehow, she said.
"The accountability is all on the schools and teachers, and the incentive is not like the ACT -- these students don't need a good score (on the MAP) to get into college," Northern commented about secondary students' taking the MAP test.
Schools that don't make adequate yearly progress in the same subject for two consecutive years are designated by the state as needing improvement.
Each year the penalty increases for schools that fail to meet AYP. Only Title I schools can be punished for not meeting the state's benchmarks. Title I schools are those schools that receive federal money to offer extra assistance to poor children.
Other local Title I schools not making AYP for the second consecutive year include Scott County R-4 (Kelly) Middle School, New Madrid County Central Middle School and Morehouse Elementary.
Title I local schools not making AYP for the first time this year are Lilbourn Elementary and East Prairie R-2 Junior High.
Several non-Title I area middle, junior high and senior high schools also did not make AYP.
"Our secondary schools are not tied to AYP and didn't perform as well this year as last year," noted Dr. Stephanie Reddick, Sikeston R-6 Curriculum Director. "Last year we showed such great growth and it's hard to maintain that."
Currently and through this spring, the state standardized test is administered to grade spans with communication arts testing in third, seventh and 11th grades; and math administered in fourth, eighth and 10th grades.
"It's not comparing apples to apples -- it's oranges to apples," Downing said about the comparing test results.
But Downing and local administrators hope when the MAP Test begins covering grades 3-8 and one grade in high school in the spring of 2006, comparing test scores will be easier.
"It will be interesting to see how it works and we'll be able target a little better where the gaps are," Northern said about the new testing.
Northern said she thinks when the test is given to grades 3-8, it will be a little more telling of what actual results are. Right now the MAP test compares two different groups of kids and that's what's not equitable about the test, she said.
"When we're talking about MAP, it's whole different set of kids with different skills and abilities each year. Kids last year and this year are not the same children," Reddick said.
But Walt Brown, state director of MAP assessment, disagrees to a certain extent.
"If I have a school district that has small class size of 25 third graders -- with one group from the next -- there could be some differences," Brown said. "But when you take the bigger schools like Sikeston, Cape or Jackson, the class sizes are big enough and shouldn't see much of a change in results."
MAP is a program evaluation of the performance of children that is indicative of the curriculum alignment, Brown pointed out. There shouldn't be much variation from class to class -- with the exception of districts with smaller classes, he said. "Targets are going up next year -- we'll see what next year brings."
For a detailed look at a specific school district's MAP results or for more information about MAP, visit DESE's Web site at www.dese.mo.gov.