SIKESTON - Making high scores on the Missouri Assessment Program Test obviously reflects well on the school system. The state-required exam, taken in the spring by all school districts, has a big bearing on whether or not a school district receives or keeps state accreditation.
But what many individuals don't often think about is that MAP also provides insight into tomorrow's workforce. So together, the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sikeston Public School System have set out to help the public realize the students taking the test are the very ones who will lead our community in the future. The test is given to students in grades 3-5, 7-8 and 9-11.
"MAP is used as a tool to identify the knowledge, skills and competencies that students need to acquire during their first 12 years of school," Robin Pace noted. "Our member businesses are constantly looking for employees who have what it takes to be effective in the workplace. We feel MAP provides the yardstick which can be used by the students and their parents to measure the students' learning success."
The MAP Awareness Campaign Committee has met since September, discussing ways of getting the information out to various businesses. Committee members include Pace, Scott Jenkins and Sue Tangeman of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Sharon Gunn, Dr. Larry Bohannon and Kathy Boldrey, who represent the R-6 School District.
This is only the sixth community in Missouri to take on this project which locally is receiving assistance from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce PEER project.
The plan is to focus on raising the visibility of the MAP test within the community by encouraging merchants to place marquee messages, banners and posters at their businesses to make parents aware of the testing and to add positive reinforcement to students taking the MAP test. The message might wish the students good luck or tell them that the entire town or a particular business is proud of them.
"Many more activities are planned and the committee hopes that the community will get involved in supporting our students and our schools," remarked Jenkins. "These activities will show them we know the testing is going on and that we want them to succeed."
"Our goal is to increase the awareness of the importance of MAP and how the scores affect the community in recruitment of new residents and businesses," said Chamber Director Missy Marshall. "Some parents know when their kids are taking the MAP test and some don't. I'm not sure they realize the importance of it though. I know as a parent I didn't realize it myself until a couple of years ago.
"Now as the Chamber director I know what prospective residents and businesses are looking at and it is how our kids score and how our schools perform overall. Good MAP scores mean our students are performing well in the core areas. MAP scores show the business community what the potential workforce is. Also MAP scores are part of a student's permanent record."
Businesses who would like to participate in the MAP Awareness Campaign are asked to contact the Chamber office at 471-2498.