SIKESTON - Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing begins for the Sikeston R-VI school district on April 15; however, some schools in the state began testing on April 8, due to MAP's testing window of April 8 through May 10.
Schools aren't the only places where MAP discussion is taking place. Lately the test has been the talk of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), particularly due to a 60 percent MAP budget cut proposal in the House and the No Child Left Behind Act, which was passed into federal law in January.
Although the new federal law and proposed budget cut may require a change in the MAP test down the road, education officials urge others that the current MAP test isn't gone and is very much essential in the assessment of Missouri's students.
"I'm really afraid that all of the talk about cutting the MAP budget by 60 percent might be causing schools to not take the MAP test seriously," Roblyn Hatch, Southeast Regional MAP facilitator said. "Everyone needs to remember that this bill's only been voted on by a committee. It still has a long way to go before being passed."
And in the meantime, Hatch encourages teachers and administrators to continue to enforce the MAP test to their students. Kathy Boldrey, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said that isn't a problem for the Sikeston R-VI schools.
"MAP is a primary focus in our schools," Boldrey reassured. "We are on a roll to think MAP. We're not about to back out of it now."
Boldrey said Sikeston R-VI teachers and administrators have spent a lot of time learning how to teach MAP skills. It's a good test, but very difficult for students, she said. It's making teachers better teachers, she said.
If the proposed budget cut does pass, Hatch estimates that the MAP test will be cut down to two sections. Last year, the budget came out in June so DESE should know about the budget hopefully as early as May, she said.
In 1996, 73 academic standards, or Show-Me Standards, were developed by the State Board of Education to comply with the 1993 Outstanding Schools Act. The MAP test was designed to measure student progress toward meeting the Show-Me Standards.
The MAP test is administered to grades three through five and seven through 11 in five categories consisting of math, communication arts, science, social studies and most recently, health/PE. The fine arts category was recently cut out of the MAP test.
DESE's concern with the No Child Left Behind law is that the federal test only contains reading and math and is given to grades three through eight. The federal test must be administered by 2005. In addition, 100 percent of students must pass at the proficient level by 2012, or the state could lose federal aid.
Last year, 31 percent of the third graders scored proficient in the reading category. Only 32 percent of seventh graders and 22 percent of 11th graders scored at the proficient level. Math scores were similar for grades four, eight and 10.
Once the No Child Left Behind Law is interpreted at the federal level, DESE can decide the fate of the current MAP test. But until then, Hatch said, DESE has no clue as to what's going to happen. She said she hopes the MAP test stays the same.
"If we don't keep the program like it is, how can we assess the standards to ensure that the students are being taught correctly?" Hatch wondered. "We built the test around the standards. Without the standards, we can't accurately measure the test."