The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 18, 2012

Joplin officials believe post-storm transitions affected 2012 MAP testing

The latest results of the Missouri Assessment Program tests for Joplin and other districts were mixed, according to figures released last week by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The results of the annual MAP tests in communication arts and math are used by the state, district officials and parents to help assess school district performance. They also are used in determining accreditation status.

Students are grouped into one of four categories: “Below Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient” and “Advanced” based on their scores.

MAP tests are administered to students from the third grade through high school each spring.

Overall, Joplin dropped in 11 categories, but reported improvements in seven areas.

In English I at Joplin High School, for example, 55.8 percent of students scored proficient or above, up from 53.2 percent in 2011. However in English II, the percentage of students who scored proficient or above slipped, going from 67.6 percent in 2011 to 61 percent in 2012. In 2010, 72.5 percent of students scored proficient or above in that subject at that grade level.

In Algebra I and II at the high school level, scores dropped from 2011, but geometry scores rose.

The percentage of students who scored proficient or above in Algebra I this year was 39.1 percent, down from 51.2 percent last year. In Algebra II, 52.9 percent of students scored proficient or above compared with 66.5 percent last year. In Geometry, the percentage of students who scored proficient or above increased by nearly 10 points from 54.8 percent last year to 64 percent in 2012.

Both Joplin High School Principal Kerry Sachetta and Superintendent C.J. Huff said the May 22, 2011, tornado and the transitions it caused for students, parents, teachers and the district as a whole affected tests results, but said there was no way they could determine just how much of an impact it had.

Joplin students in elementary and middle school grades reported mixed results in communication arts compared with last year, with some grades slightly improving and others slightly decreasing in the percentage of students who scored proficient or above.

Third-graders continued to show decreases in mathematics for the third year in a row, while seventh-graders showed improvements in communication skills for the third year in a row.

In the spring of 2012, 42.4 percent of third graders were proficient or above in mathematics for their level, compared with 45.4 percent in 2011 and 50.5 percent in 2010.

And last spring, 53.5 percent of seventh-grade students were proficient or better in communication arts, up from 52.7 percent a year earlier and 51.3 percent in 2010.

“Every year we have mixed results,” said Huff, but this year presented new challenges as students had to adjust to temporary schools in new settings, different schedules and other changes as a result of the tornado.

“The focus this year was meeting the mental health needs of kids,” Huff said. “Kids missed a lot of class time this year for personal and family issues related to the storm, and we’ve implemented new curriculum.”

Huff said the district adopted a new math curriculum last year in a direct response to some decreases in math they have been tracking over the past several years.

“The new curriculum we’re using is research-based and there’s no reason scores shouldn’t improve as a direct result as long as we provide the training to staff,” Huff said. “On basic skills concepts, kids perform well but it’s the synthesizing and problem-solving areas where we need to do more work.”

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