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Everything listed under: Testing

  • 5 Things to Know About No Child Left Behind


    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is one of the most important pieces of education legislation in America, which is why Missouri Parent created a multi-part series of posts explaining what NCLB is, how it came to be, and what it means to Missouri students.

    If you don’t have time to read all of our posts about the policy, here are five things to know about No Child Left Behind:

    1) NCLB began in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to help close the education gap between rich and poor Americans.

    2) Schools Must Follow NCLB to receive federal funding, even though NCLB isn’t technically mandated to the U.S. government. (Learn more)

    3) NCLB requires public schools to alert parents if a child’s core academic instructors are not considered “highly qualified” by their state’s teacher qualification standards.

    3) NCLB calls for state-level standardized testing, Adequate Year Progress reports, and annual report cards to be implemented across the country.

    5) The federal education budget has more than tripled since Congress passed NCLB in 2001.

    To learn more about No Child Left Behind, check out these Missouri Parent posts:

    What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is
    What the No Child Left Behind Policy Means to Our Students
    How Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Came to Be: A History

    Missouri Parent exists to help keep you, the parent of a Missouri public school student, in-the-know about legislative and funding decisions that affect your child’s K-12 education. To receive regular public school education updates, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • What Should I Know About The Lexile® Framework for Reading?


    You’ve probably heard of Lexile® measures, but do you know why they matter? They’re not just another little trend in public education; they’re an important tool that parents and educators across the country can use to help kids improve reading skills.

    What is a Lexile® Measure?

    The Lexile® Framework is a standard that helps connect readers with texts. Students are assigned a numeric Lexile® measure that functions like a reading score. That number could be in the low 200s for new readers, or it could exceed 1600 for advanced readers. The higher the Lexile® measure, the more advanced the reader. The lower the score, the newer the reader.

    The same scores apply to texts. Books, articles, and websites get Lexile® measures based on the same scale that readers do, helping parents choose books and other reading materials that match their child’s reading comprehension. More than 100 million articles and websites and more than 150,000 books have been assigned a Lexile® measure.

    According to the Lexile® website, for instance, the first Harry Potter book was an 880 Lexile® book. Emerging readers with a 220 Lexile® measure probably not be able to read or understand Harry Potter, but readers with a Lexile® measure range of 780 to 910 can probably read and comprehend the book’s writing without frustration.

    Lexile® Measures Aren’t Based on Grade Level

    Once upon a time, a child’s reading level was based on how other students in the same grade level performed at the same time, on the same test. That meant that the same student’s score would be higher if the rest of the class performed below average.

    It also meant that a student could be identified as reading “below grade level” if he or she happened to be grouped with exceptional readers on test day. Basically, it meant that a child’s reading level was measured on a curve.

    By contrast, a child’s Lexile® measure isn’t based on how other kids in the same grade level did on that year’s test — it’s based on how well a child reads on a Lexile® scale that never changes. This takes pressure off of kids and parents, both, because it allows you to work on improving your child’s reading skills without comparing your child to other kids.

    Why Should I Care About Lexile® Measures?

    Lexile® measures are an international standard that puts the reader and the text on the same developmental scale. Students in more than 180 countries and in all 50 U.S. States use the Lexile® Measure Framework, making the system relatively ubiquitous in libraries, bookstores, and even magazines, news publications, and websites.

    Because the measure is so widespread, you can use it to help find reading materials that will keep your child challenged and happy learning to read. The days of guessing whether a book or news article is the right difficulty for your child are long gone. Now you just need to know your child’s — and the text’s — Lexile® measure, and you’re good to go.

    If you aren’t sure what your child’s Lexile® measure is, talk to his or her teacher or visit the Lexile® Framework for Reading website to learn more.

    Missouri Parent is here to educate you, Missouri’s public school parents, about legislation, funding, and policy issues that affect your child’s education. We’re also here to help provide information that will support you as you guide your child through his or her public school years in preparation for college or career.

    You can learn more about education in Missouri by bookmarking Missouri Parent News, and you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily education updates from around the state.

  • What You Need to Know About PIAAC’s International Skills Assessment

    PIAAC stands for the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. PIAAC. One of PIAAC’s best-publicized programs is its Survey of Adult Skills, which was featured in this story in The Atlantic.

    The survey, which is conducted across 33 countries, measures “key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper.” (Source)

    The goal of the survey is to assess workers from age 16 to age 65 to see how well-developed the skills of a nation’s workers are — especially relative to those of workers in other industrialized nations. Additionally, the survey hopes to help countries “better understand how education and training systems can nurture these skills.” (Source)

    The survey assesses literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving, as well as cognitive skills, interaction and social skills, physical skills, and learning skills.

    And because it takes into account each survey participant’s age, education level, and other demographic details, nations can even see how their populations (younger vs. older; more educated vs. less educated, etc.) compare with one another.

    To that end, the study found that while the U.S. workers’ skills aren’t as well developed as other those of workers in other nations, the U.S. ranks much higher in terms of the number of citizens with advanced degrees than other nations do.

    PIAAC’s website says that, “Actual skill levels often differ from what formal education qualifications suggest. For example, Italy or the United States rank much higher internationally in the share of adults with tertiary degrees than in the level of literacy or numeracy proficiency.” 

    The more educated American survey participants were, the closer they came to closing the skills gap with workers in Japan and Finland — the highest performing countries on the assessment.

    Does a skills gap truly exist between the U.S. and other wealthy nations? If PIAAC’s survey results are accurate, then the answer is yes. The next question we should be asking is, “What can America’s public schools do about it?”.

    Are you curious to learn more about the International Assessment of Adult Competencies? Beginning in August, you can take the test online to see how your skills stack up against those of other well-developed nations around the world!

    We hope that you’ll bookmark Missouri Parent News, and that you’ll connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed on all things education in the State of Missouri.

  • Do Standardized Tests in Reading Measure Teachers or Parents?


    A story on indicated that math scores on standardized tests are easier to improve upon then reading scores are. Their rationale: students’ language learning is less strongly influenced by formal education than by home life. This got us thinking about standardized tests, and whether they measure the success of teachers, parents, or both. (Source) didn’t cite specific research, but it did point out that reading levels are deeply intertwined with a student’s personal background and home life, meaning that standardized test scores for reading might say more about a child’s parents and informal learning than it does about the child’s classroom education:

    “Math is a skill that students mostly learn in school. Reading skills, on the other hand, are more intertwined with students’ backgrounds — everything from their family income to how many words they heard early in life,” the story said.

    Curious, we hunted around the Internet looking for research and other news stories to support the idea that teachers may have less influence on students’ test scores (in any subject area) than parents do. Here’s what we found:

    · The Telegraph reports on a study conducted at the University of London that showed parental influence to be five times more powerful than formal education. (Source)
    · The Heritage Foundation says that there is a “strong relationship between parental influences and children’s educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion.” (Source)
    · This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times says that teenagers whose parents read them books often as young children scored much higher on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test than those whose parents did not often read to them. (Source)
    · But this blog post, also from the New York Times, begs to differ. Parent involvement in a child’s education, according to a study by the authors, is overrated.

    What do you think? Do you believe that how you supplement your child’s formal education at home has as strong — or stronger — of an influence on your child’s standardized test scores than their formal public school education does? Weigh in on our Facebook Page, or leave a comment right here on the blog.

    You can read the full story that inspired this post here.

    Bookmark Missouri Parent News today or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy, testing, and other educational initiatives affecting Missouri’s public school students.

  • What Would the Civics Education Initiative Mean for Our Students?


    The Civics Education Initiative would require high school students, as a condition of graduation, to pass a test on 100 basic facts of U.S. history and civics, from the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test. (Source)

    It “would require all Missouri high school students to achieve at least a 60 percent score on the United States Citizenship Civics Test in order to graduate and earn a diploma.” General Education Development (GED) candidates would also be required to pass the test. (Source)

    Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and in both the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate have broadly supported the Civics Education Initiative. Proponents have designed the initiative to provide schools and districts with as much flexibility as possible: In addition to administering the test in whatever way the school deems appropriate (10 questions, 100 questions, or some other arrangement), the initiative gives students the freedom to take the civics test at any time during their high school years.

    Schools and districts will also have the flexibility to determine when during junior high and high school students will be presented with civics-related subject matter. The heart of the initiative is to ensure that Missouri students graduate ready to engage as educated and responsible stewards of democracy:

    “The Civics Education Initiative is a fundamental first step toward ensuring all Missouri students understand the basic foundations of our government,” Dan Mehan, with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. “Its simple in concept and it ensures that our high school graduates have the basic knowledge necessary for active, engaged citizenship.” (Source)

    The United States Citizenship Civics Test is the same test that immigrants aspiring toward U.S. citizenship must take. It was created by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and it includes 100 questions about American government, history, and integrated civics.

    Prospective U.S. citizens are assigned 10 of those 100 questions at random, but exactly how many questions will be on a Missouri high school student’s test will be determined by individual schools and districts.

    The Civics Education Initiative is an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, which was founded to educate American youth on the importance of our country’s unique freedoms, and to inspire them to public service. Joe Foss was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, former governor of South Dakota, and first commissioner of the American Football League.

    Learn more about the Joe Foss Institute here.

    Bookmark Missouri Parent News today or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy and other educational initiatives affecting Missouri’s public school students.

  • What Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Is


    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is always a big topic of conversation in Washington, but now that the policy is more than a decade old, we wonder how many Missouri parents know, in detail, what NCLB is. Here on the MOParent Blog, we’ll break NCLB down into its core components, and next we’ll talk about what each of those components means to our students.

    It’s our goal to keep you informed about legislative and funding issues that affect children in Missouri’s public schools. We hope that this two-part post on No Child Left Behind helps you to better-understand in this important federal educational initiative and the impact it has on Missouri’s K-12 public school students.

    What is No Child Left Behind?
    No Child Left Behind is a federal law that was enacted with bipartisan support as one of the first Congressional initiatives of President George W. Bush in 2001. NCLB is a standards-based education reform initiative that is built “on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.” (Source)

    NCLB didn’t begin with President Bush, though. It began as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson hoped that ESEA would help close the education gap between the nation’s underserved and vulnerable students and those in better-served, more stable districts and schools.

    When NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001, it was passed as a re-authorization of President Johnson’s ESEA. In other words, NCLB was the new name given to the updated and re-authorized version of a well-established federal education act.

    NCLB isn’t a federally mandated program. In other words, states aren’t formally required to participate in NCLB. NCLB is, however, tied directly to federal funding: schools that wish to receive federal funding must meet NCLB standards. NCLB significantly increased the involvement — albeit the indirect involvement — of the federal government in public education.

    The federal government’s involvement in public education is the source of much of the controversy surrounding NCLB. While the program has the well-meaning intention of closing achievement gaps by ensuring that all American public school students have access to high-quality education, many state and local school leaders and community members believe that education policy should be kept at the state level.

    NCLB calls for states to implement standardized testing in key subject areas, and to provide annual progress updates to the federal government. In addition, schools, districts, and states are required to make annual “Report Cards” publicly accessible to the parents and the larger community. Finally, NCLB requires that core academic area teachers be “highly qualified”. Since NCLB’s passage in 2001 by Congress, the federal education budget has increased from $42.2 billion to $141 billion.

    To learn more about NCLB’s standardized testing, school report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes, come back tomorrow to the Missouri Parent Blog. We’ll explain each of these four NCLB policy components, and what each of them means to our public school students.

    This is part one in a two-part post on No Child Left Behind. Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog to learn about how NCLB affects our students, and connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy and funding issues.

  • How Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Came to Be: A History



    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is making national headlines again as federal lawmakers debate changes to NCLB proposed by the chairman of the Senate education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

    If you’re the parent of a public school student right now, you might not have had a school-aged child when NCLB was enacted as a federal law thirteen years ago. If that’s the case, we hope that this NCLB timeline will help you to feel better informed as Sen. Alexander and others in Washington debate NCLB:

    * January 23, 2001: Just days after taking office, President George W. Busch presented one of his first Congressional initiatives, NCLB.

    * January 8, 2002: Congress enacted NCLB as “an act to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” The bill was passed by bipartisan majorities. (Source)

    * 2004: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) initiated meetings between “more than 135 national civil rights, education, disability advocacy, civic, labor and religious groups” to create a proposal for fundamental changes to NCLB. (Source)

    * October 2004: FairTest released its NCLB proposal, calling for changes to federal education law. The goal? To replace NCLB’s emphasis on standardized test scores with rewards for “systematic changes that improve student improvement.” (Source)

    Read More about FairTest’s Proposal: The Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind.

    * February 2007: The Aspen Commission on NCLB, an independent, bipartisan effort to improve NCLB, released its final recommendations—a set of “specific and actionable policy recommendations,” some of which called for stricter federal enforcement of state educational standards and accountability. (Source)

    * 2007: A working group of the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB—the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA)—countered the Aspen Commission with its recommendation “to shift NCLB from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to supporting state and communities and hold them accountable as they make systematic changes that improve student learning.” (Source)

    * 2009: Race to the Top (RTTT)—a $4.35 billion reform initiative from the Department of Education was launched by the U.S. Department of Education to spur innovation in education. RTTT was funded by ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. RTTT rewarded states for meeting performance-based educator standards and following other educational policies. (Source)

    * March 2010: President Barack Obama “released a blueprint for reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” (ESEA) which preceded NCLB. The President urged a shift from the “punishment” mentality that concerned NCLB opponents to a system that focused on student improvement. The President also revised ESEA to include assessments for modern skills like technology use and effective communications. The President proposed a $2 billion increase in the federal budget to help schools meet the bill’s mandates. (Source)

    * 2012: The President waived or conditionally waived NCLB requirements to Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. These states “have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.” (Source)*

    * 2012: A Gallup poll revealed general public dissatisfaction with NCLB. Only 16% thought that NCLB improved education, and “67% felt that it had made no difference or made things worse.” (Source)

    * January 2015: Senate education committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) proposed major changes to NCLB that would shift the onus of educational policy-making back to individual states.

    NCLB will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog for NCLB updates. Bookmark the blog, and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.

    *In order to earn waivers, states were required to “produce their own plans for enhancing teacher competence and academic standards as well as implementing ways to track progress.”

  • #MoNoOn3: A Constitutional Amendment Affecting Public Schools




    Constitutional Amendment 3 will appear on the November 4th, 2014 general election ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. The amendment, which is centered on using standardized test scores to evaluate public school teachers, is a bad move for Missouri’s students, teachers, and schools.

    What the Ballot Says
    The ballot boils Constitutional Amendment 3 down to three core changes: teacher evaluations, effects of those evaluations, and teacher rights for contracts and collective bargaining.

    Specifically, the Amendment reads:

    Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

    • Require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
    • Require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
    • Require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

    How Constitutional Amendment 3 Came to Be
    Constitutional Amendment 3 is sponsored by Teach Great, an organization lead not by teachers or other educational professionals, but by a wealthy businessman (Rex Sinquefield) from St. Louis who has put hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into this one campaign.

    In fact, educators and school leaders statewide strongly oppose Constitutional Amendment 3. Teachers and administrators are standing firm: #NoMoOn3. TWEET THIS

    Educators Oppose Amendment 3
    Individual teachers and statewide educational organizations are doing their best to raise awareness about what Amendment 3 means to public education budgets and to students in our public schools.

    Two teachers in the Francis Howell School District have lost a legal challenge to the ballot initiative. The teachers argued that the amendment was in violation of the Missouri Constitution because it addressed two topics (a teacher evaluation system and limited ability for collective bargaining) simultaneously.

    The Missouri State Teachers Association, the Committee in Support of Public Schools, and the Cape Girardeau Teachers Association are just a few of the educational organizations stepping up to publicly argue #MoNoOn3.

    Missouri NEA lobbyist DeeAnn Aull said, “This amendment will result in more time spent testing and less time spent learning, actually short-changing the education students receive.”

    The impacts of Missouri Amendment 3 are far-reaching, affecting school expenses, teacher recruitment and retention, the number of standardized tests students will be required to take (the number is estimated to increase tenfold), and how much control districts and schools will have over the evaluation of their own educators.

    What the Amendment Means for Schools

    • Schools & districts will lose local control; their individual evaluation systems must be approved in Jefferson City. TWEET THIS
    • Students will be required to take even more standardized tests (the Missouri State Teachers Association estimates a tenfold increase to account for new tests in areas like music and the arts). TWEET THIS
    • Those additional tests raise the costs of an already underfunded and financially strained state education system. TWEET THIS
    • Student test scores would be used as the majority factor in the determination of teacher pay and retention: they could be fired or demoted if their students perform poorly on standardized tests. TWEET THIS
    • Teachers in low-income schools (where student test performance is negatively influenced by factors that are well outside of the teacher’s influence) could lose their jobs if students test poorly. TWEET THIS
    • The amendment would make it harder to recruit and retain teachers to work in Missouri’s low-income and/or underperforming schools and districts. TWEET THIS
    • Teacher contracts could no longer exist for periods of more than three years. TWEET THIS
    • Teachers would be prevented from collectively bargaining over the terms of their own evaluations. TWEET THIS

    Constitutional Amendment 3 is a bad idea all-around. The amendment is one more effort—an expensive one, at that—by Rex Sinquefield to put his mark on public education.



    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on social media to stay informed on Constitutional Amendment 3 and other policy initiatives that will affect your public school student in Missouri.


  • Smart Students Come From Missouri

    According to this map created by FindTheBest which compiles SAT, ACT, AP, and NAEP test scores and compares them across the states, Missouri public schools rank high in achievements by high school students.

    The Missouri score of 4.48 on a 1-5 scale puts us above half of our border states and in the top third of all states. 

    In this study, students in New Hampshire set the high mark at 5.0 and Mississippi students came in at 2.97.

  • Adaptive vs. Fixed Form Assessments: What’s the Difference?

    Missouri’s public school students will transition to an entirely online Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing system in 2014-15. As you learn more about how your child will be assessed through the new MAP tests, you may hear the terms “adaptive” and “fixed-form” testing. Today on the Missouri Parent Blog, we’ll explain the difference between the two testing styles:

    Adaptive Testing
    Adaptive testing, also called computer adaptive testing (CAT) or “tailored testing”, is a method of testing that actively adapts to the test taker’s ability level during a computerized assessment.

    In adaptive testing, a computerized algorithm adjusts future questions based on a student’s performance on past questions. In other words, the test bases the difficulty of future questions on whether a student has answered past questions correctly.

    Adaptive testing provides a more accurate measure of student achievement than traditional, fixed-form testing does; specifically for the highest- and lowest-performing students.

    The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) Course Level Assessments (CLAs) for 3rd through 8th grade English language arts and mathematics use adaptive testing.

    Fixed-Form Testing
    In fixed-form testing, all students receive the same future questions, regardless of performance on past questions. If you took paper-and-pencil assessments as a student, then you’re familiar with fixed-form tests.

    In Missouri, End-of-Course (EOC) assessments are fixed-form tests. This includes EOCs for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

    To learn more about the Missouri Assessment Program, see these posts from Missouri Parent:

    What is the Missouri Assessment Program?
    Missouri Public Schools to Use CTB/McGraw-Hill 
    How Will Missouri Assess the Common Core?
    5 Ways Your Child’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation

    Photo via

  • Missouri Public Schools to Use CTB/McGraw-Hill

    Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, Missouri’s public schools will use CTB/McGraw-Hill to administer updated online statewide assessments to measure Missouri students’ progress toward state standards. The change will begin in the 2014-15 school year.

    Missouri’s relationship with CTB/McGraw-Hill is not new; the state has used the assessment company for almost two decades:

    "TheState of Missourihas been a strong, longstanding partner for nearly 20 years, and we are proud that it has chosen CTB/McGraw-Hill to serve its public school students and educators in assessing students' academic proficiency," saidEllen Haley, president of CTB/McGraw-Hill.” (source)

    The most notable changes to the state’s assessments are a shift from paper to online testing and the addition of both Interim Assessments and End-of-High School (EOHS) Summative Assessments.

    Missouri’s new contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill includes:
    · Interim Assessments (NEW)
    o English language arts interim assessments
    o Mathematics interim assessments
    · Grade Level Assessments (GLAs)
    Learn more about GLAs here.
    o English language arts
    o Mathematics
    o Science grade-level
    (development, administration, scoring and reporting)
    · End-of-High School Summative (EOHS) Assessments (NEW)
    (administration, scoring and reporting)
    o English language arts
    o Mathematics
    o Science
    · End of Course (EOC) Assessments
    (development, administration, scoring and reporting)
    Learn more about EOCs here.
    o English language arts
    o Mathematics
    · End of Course (EOC) Assessments
    (administration, scoring and reporting)
    Learn more about EOCs here.
    o Science (Biology)
    o Social Studies (American History, Government)
    All of the new assessments will be administered online, enabling schools to receive detailed student performance feedback in as little as 10 days after testing is complete.

    The State Board of Education approved the Department’s proposed FY15 budget, which included $18 million in additional funds for student assessments and teacher resources — in September 2013, including additional funds for the new CTB/McGraw-Hill assessment contract. The budget is subject to the normal appropriations process.

    Assessment costs to school districts will not change in 2014-15.

  • The Missouri Assessment Program: Changes Ahead for 2014-15

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently announced changes to the 2014-15 Missouri Assessment Program, including adjustments to Grade Level Assessments (GLAs) and End-of-Course Assessments (EOCs).

    What is the Missouri Assessment Program? Learn more in this overview from Missouri Parent.

    GLAs are taken in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th grades in English Language Arts and Math. 5th and 8th grade students also take GLAs in science.

    Whereas GLAs are taken at the end of a grade level, EOCs are taken at the completion of a course. Specifically, Missouri’s EOCs are offered in Algebra I & II, English I & II, Biology, American History, and Government.

    Changes to GLAs in 2014-15
    The biggest change announced by DESE to GLAs is a shift from paper tests to testing using an online platform. One of the biggest advantages to the new online platform is that school districts will receive test results (including written responses to test questions) within 10 business days after completion of testing.

    Changes to EOCs in 2014-15
    Changes to EOCs are a bit more nuanced than those to GLAs. For example, English I & II and Algebra I & II will now be aligned to the Common Core State Standards, while Biology, Government, and American History will remain aligned to Missouri Course-Level Expectations (CLEs).

    The state has announced its plans to change to the writing prompts used for the English II exam. DESE aims to publish those changes by the end of winter 2014.

    Additionally, Missouri will expand science-based EOCs to meet the updated expectation that all of Missouri’s 2018 graduating seniors have taken three science EOC assessments (Biology is currently the only science-based EOC available to students).

    GLAs and EOCs are both used to help the state measure each school and district’s Academic Achievement under the Missouri School Improvement Program. If you’d like to learn more about MSIP5 and how Missouri’s schools are evaluated for accreditation, click here.

  • Pass or Fail: A Competency-Based Approach to Learning

    What would you say if your child’s school stopped giving him or her credit for completing homework assignments or showing up for class? That’s exactly what’s happening in some of the nation’s schools, including public schools in Missouri.

    Competency-based education is a new trend that’s expected to continue to grow, and it has many names; proficiency-based education, mastery-based education, standards-based learning, and performance-based education, to name a few.

    A recent story on summed competency-based learning up nicely when it said, “At the heart of standards-based grading is the thought that students should be awarded grades for demonstrating they have mastered a subject — not for the work they completed along the way.” was covering competency-based learning because several area school districts, including Rockwood, Parkway, and Pattonville have introduced competency-based learning models in recent years.

    Parent and teacher feedback on the models have been mixed.

    Katie Nease, a content facilitator in Rockwood, told that, “once I made that shift, it was remarkable the changes that I saw in the classroom. For some student, getting a zero was a pass out. This sends a message that your learning is important.” (source)

    Becky Stevenson, a Eureka High School English teacher, was also interviewed by She said that while she still gives feedback on homework assignments, homework isn’t calculated in her students’ final grades. The result, says Stevenson, is that students are showing a new desire to learn (instead of focusing on grades).

    Parents and teachers have voiced concerns over standards-based learning, too. Parents are concerned that students may become lax in completing homework assignments when grades are assigned for that homework. Some teachers have expressed concerned that by not assigning homework grades, schools aren’t teaching students the valuable life and career lessons of meeting deadlines and doing good work.

    One St. Charles school, Lincoln Elementary, has seen concrete benefits after shifting to a competency-based learning model. Before standards-based learning, the majority of Lincoln Elementary’s students failed state tests. In 2013, 71% passed state reading tests, and more than twice as many students (80%) passed state math tests as in 2010.

    What do you think? Leave a comment today on the Missouri Parent Blog.

  • What are Subgroups, and How Does Missouri Measure Their Achievement?

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education calculates an Annual Performance Report score (APR) for every school and every district in the state.

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the framework for the State’s APRs, and the resulting APR scores are used — along with other information — to determine each district’s accreditation status.

    Not sure what MSIP is? Read this short post.

    Under MSIP, there are five distinctive Performance Standards; Academic Achievement, Subgroup Achievement, High School Readiness (K-8) (or College and Career Readiness for K-12 schools), Attendance Rate, and Graduation Rate.

    Each of these five Performance Standards earns a Status Score, a Progress Score, and a Growth Score. Those scores are included in each school’s APR scoring matrix. We’ll talk more about Status, Progress, and Growth Scores in a future post.

    Today, though, we’ll talk about Performance Standard #2: Subgroup Achievement.

    Why Subgroups?
    To ensure inclusion and to differentiate between the needs of schools, Missouri issues and reports the academic achievement of those students who fall into a “subgroup” that has historically performed below state standards.

    According to the Department of Education, “A review of Missouri data identifies five significant gaps in subgroup performance (African American, Hispanic, low income students, students with disabilities and English language learners).” (source)

    Measuring Subgroup Achievement
    The achievement of all Missouri students, including those who fall into subgroups, is assessed through the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) using MAP, grade-level (GLA), end-of-course (EOC), and MAP-alternate (MAP-A) assessments.

    A minimum of 95% of students must be assessed, and student performance must meet or exceed state standards or demonstrate the required improvement over time. For accountability (such as district accreditation) a super subgroup system ensures that students are only counted once, even if they fall into more than one of the state’s five subgroups.

    A weighted scoring system is used to ensure that subgroup achievement is sensibly and fairly evaluated and interpreted against non-subgroup achievement.

    Want to Learn More About MSIP5 and How Missouri’s Schools are Evaluated?
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?
    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    Academic Achievement & School Accreditation in Missouri
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% of Annual Performance Reviews

  • Academic Achievement & School Accreditation in Missouri

    Missouri aims to reach a Top 10 ranking in the US in public education by the year 2020. In order to measure progress toward that goal, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education calculates an Annual Performance Report score (APR) for every school and every district in the state.

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the framework for the State’s APRs, and the resulting APR scores are used — along with other information — to determine each district’s accreditation status.

    Not sure what MSIP is? Read this short post.

    Under MSIP, there are five distinctive Performance Standards; Academic Achievement, Subgroup Achievement, High School Readiness (K-8) or College and Career Readiness (K-12), Attendance Rate, and Graduation Rate.

    Each of these five Performance Standards earns a Status Score, a Progress Score, and a Growth Score. Those scores are included in each school’s APR scoring matrix. We’ll talk more about Status, Progress, and Growth Scores in a future post.

    Today, we’ll focus on the first of the five Performance Standards: Academic Achievement.

    As a parent, you probably already know that your child takes the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests in school. You may not have realized that his or her MAP scores are taken into consideration when determining the accreditation status of his or her school district.

    In fact, MAP scores are one of the primary measurements for a district’s Academic Achievement. These scores include grade-level assessments (GLA), end-of-course (EOC), and MAP-alternate (MAP-A assessments).

    In order for districts to achieve or maintain accreditation, their students must meet or exceed state standards or show demonstrated improvement over time on MAP, GLA, EOC, or MAP-A assessments.

    The state requires that 95% (or more) of the students within each school or district take MAP assessments. In order to account for the needs of students who fall into higher risk or special needs categories, MSIP5 also monitors Subgroup Achievement. We’ll explore Subgroup Achievement more in a future post.

    Was this post helpful? You might also enjoy:
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?
    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% of Annual Performance Reviews

  • What is the Missouri Assessment Program?

    The Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, is a series of assessments that are designed to see if all students in Missouri are meeting Show-Me Standards.

    For students in grades 3-8, MAP assessments cover English Language Arts, Math, and Science. High school students are tested in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

    The MAP isn’t just one test — it’s a series of assessments that includes End-of-Course Assessments, Grade Level Assessments, and MAP-Alternate Assessments. Today, we’ll explore each of these in more detail.

    End-of-Course Assessments
    End-of-Course Assessments (EOCs) are not given at the end of a grade level, but are instead administered at the completion of a course. EOC assessments are offered for Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, English I, English II, Biology, American History and Government.

    EOCs include two question types; multiple choice questions and performance events. Multiple choice questions appear on all of Missouri’s EOC assessments. Performance events — which are longer tasks that require students to work through problems, experiments, arguments, or writing — appear only on Algebra I, Biology, and English II EOC assessments.

    Beginning with the current school year, all EOCs are administered online. Exceptions are made for students who use Braille or Large Print. EOC assessments are only available in English, so accommodations (and certain exceptions) are also made for English Language Learners (ELLs).

    Grade-Level Assessments
    Students begin taking Grade-Level Assessments (GLAs) in the 3rd grade, and they continue taking them throughout high school.

    Students in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th grades take GLAs in English Language Arts and Math. Students in the 5th and 8th grades take those two GLAs as well as a science assessment. High school assessments include English I, English II, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, U.S. History, U.S. Government, and Biology.

    GLAs are made up of multiple-choice questions as well as “constructed response” questions. Constructed response questions require students to supply a response rather than being able to choose a response from a multiple-choice list.
    GLAs also incorporate TerraNova test questions, which allow Missouri student achievement to be compared to students taking the same test in other states.

    MAP-A Assessments
    MAP-A Assessments are also aligned with the Show-Me Standards, but are designed to measure student performance based on alternate achievement standards that require teachers to customize the assessment for each individual student.

    Only students with severe cognitive disabilities who meet certain criteria are given the MAP-A Assessment. Those students do not participate in GLA or EOC assessments.

    Communication Arts MAP-A Assessments are given to students in the 3rd through 8th and 11th grades. Math is assessed in the 3rd through 8th grades and again in the 10th grade. Science MAP-A Assessments are given in the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades.

    Was this post helpful? You might also enjoy:
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?
    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    Missouri’s Annual Performance Report Released
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% of Annual Performance Reviews

  • Missouri Schools Roll Out Common Core Standards

    Missouri adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 with the goal of fully implementing the standards in the 2014-15 school year. A recent survey conducted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shows that the state is on track to reach that goal.

    70% of the 6,000 teachers and administrators surveyed by DESE said that they have either already or are currently implementing the standards. 55.6% are implementing them this year and 13.7% will implement them during the 2014-15 academic year.

    The remaining participants had either already implemented the standards or were unsure exactly when implementation was scheduled to be finished in their districts.

    The majority of teachers surveyed said that they felt they were receiving the training they needed for CCSS, and most also said that in order to successfully implement the CCSS, they’d need to collaborate more with colleagues.

    Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro said that the state is pleased with the progress school districts are making toward implementation of the CCSS. “The Standards are crucial to ensuring our children are prepared for postsecondary education and careers,” she said. (source)

    Quick Facts:
    · Missouri contributed to the development of the CCSS.
    · Missouri adopted the CCSS in 2010.
    · Missouri will fully implement the CCSS by 2014-15.
    · The CCSS primarily address English Language Arts and Mathematics.
    · Both content knowledge and skills are part of the CCSS.
    · Schools will continue to have local control of curriculums once the CCSS have been implemented.
    · The CCSS establish clear, consistent learning goals for all students – regardless of where they live.

    The Common Core State Standards are an important next step in ensuring that all of Missouri’s K-12 public school students, regardless of their district, reach the same overall learning goals.

    From the smallest and most rural Missouri communities to the state’s largest school districts, all of Missouri’s teachers will be expected to teach to the same standards beginning in 2014-15.

    To remain informed on Common Core State Standards and how they’re being implemented across the state of Missouri, sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates.

  • How Missouri Will Test the Common Core

    Missouri is one of 46 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards. Like many parents in Missouri, you may wonder how, exactly, Common Core Standards will be tested in our schools.

    Currently, three major testing systems have developed for the evaluation of Common Core Standards; ACT Aspire, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).

    Governing, Advisory, and Affiliate States
    Missouri is a Governing State of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, meaning that we are fully committed to Smarter Balanced and that we have a vote in Smarter Balanced policy decisions.

    States can adopt Smarter Balanced as Advisory States, providing guidance and development, but without voting privileges. Or they can become Affiliate Members who have not committed to the consortium, but who do support Smarter Balanced.

    About Smarter Balanced
    Smarter Balanced is an adaptive testing system that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics.

    Smarter Balanced tests adapt questions based on correct and incorrect student answers. In other words, when a student answers a question correctly, subsequent questions will be more difficult. If a student answers a question incorrectly, subsequent questions will be easier.

    Other Smarter Balanced States & Territories
    Other states that have adopted Smarter Balanced include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    States are not required to select just one testing option. Some states, such as Colorado, North Dakota, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, have adopted both Smarter Balanced and PARCC. Several other states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Maryland, and Ohio, have yet to determine which consortium they’ll join.

    To learn more about Common Core State Standards and other policies and initiatives that affect your child’s public school education in Missouri, sign up at the top of this page for Missouri Parent email updates.

  • Changes to ACT & SAT Will Affect High School Students

    The new SAT, which will be unveiled in 2015, aims to better-align with what students are learning in the classroom.

    Instead of memorizing long, uncommon words in preparation for the vocabulary portion of the SAT, students will be expected to understand more common words used in real-life contexts.

    The math section of the SAT will also change. The old SAT emphasized choosing the correct answer from a multiple-choice list. The new SAT will require students to explain their answers.

    The exact details of the SAT’s redesign haven’t yet been finalized or publicized.

    The ACT — which is divided into four sections; English, reading, math and science and a fifth, optional, writing section — will see changes as well. Beginning the spring of 2015, students will have the option of taking the exam on a computer.

    According to Jon Erickson, the present of ACT’s Education Division, “We are moving to a computer-based version, but for the foreseeable future, we will also have the paper and pencil test as an option for schools that don’t have the technological capability. We will probably have the option for students to choose paper and pencil, as well. But all the anecdotal evidence is that students prefer the computer.”

    In addition, the new ACT test will include constructed-response questions that will require students to perform virtual tasks. As with the SAT, the ACT is still working through specifics of their updated test.

    Current high school freshmen will see these new SAT and ACT tests implemented during their sophomore and junior years of high school.

    How do you think changes to the SAT and ACT will affect this year’s high school freshmen?

    Does your school have the resources necessary to administer the ACT’s new, computerized test?

    Do you think the changes to the SAT and ACT are for the best?

    Leave a comment on the blog or on the Missouri Parent Facebook Page []. For regular updates on issues facing today’s Missouri students, be sure to subscribe to Missouri Parent email updates. Just enter your email address and zip code at the top of this page.

  • 100 Years of Standardized Tests

    In the midst of complex debates over public education, standardized testing, and educational reform, this exam issued to Kentucky 8th graders 100 years ago seems comparatively straightforward. In truth, the test is surprisingly difficult.

    Click the image for the full exam, answers, and a history of the test.

    Can you name, for example the capitals of the states bordering the Ohio River? Do you know what the functions (or uses) of the spinal column are? Can you name five county officers and the principal duties of each? Remember that 100 years ago, each of these was an essay question — not a single question was designed as multiple choice.

    The 8th grade exam covers spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology, civil government, and history. Each section includes ten questions or less, except for spelling, in which students were asked to spell 40 words.

    Tests Then & Now
    In 1912, students answered less than 60 essay questions and spelled 40 words as part of a single exam at the end of 8th grade. Students were required to travel to a regional testing site to participate in the exam.

    Missouri’s 8th graders complete MAP tests in three different subject areas; communication arts, math, and science. These tests are administered in the classroom, eliminating travel requirements. Today’s tests are longer than Kentucky’s 1912 test was, and they include several types of questions, while Kentucky’s 100-year-old test was made up entirely essay questions.

    Eighth graders in Missouri are given a little over two hours to complete three sections of communication arts testing; two hours and twenty minutes to complete three sections of math testing; and three hours to complete three sections of science exams. Students encounter multiple choice questions, constructed response questions, and “performance events” – extended construction response questions.

    What Do You Think?
    What do you think about tests 100 years ago and tests now? Could you have passed Kentucky’s 8th grade exam? Do you think you could pass your child’s 8th grade MAP tests? Leave a comment on the MOParent Facebook Page, and if you enjoy posts like this one, be sure to sign up for MOParent email updates!

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