MAP scores highlight Columbia school district's performance

Aug 14, 2012

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the state’s 2012 school test scores Tuesday. And while the data show a small but fairly consistent improvement across most subjects, Columbia still has some work to do in a few categories.

The Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, tests students from third grade through high school in areas such as communication arts, math and science. For the 2012 school year, the Columbia district met all 14 state standards to remain an accredited district.

Indeed, one standout statistic shows a significant upswing in scores from students who receive a free or reduced lunch plan.  On the other end of the spectrum, black students have fallen to below the state average in most areas. Chris Belcher is the Columbia Public Schools Superintendent.

“Some of it’s complicated because we know 78 percent of our African-American students also are in the free and reduced lunch category," said Belcher. "But at the same time if you were to control for that variable, their test scores are still below the average scores, so there’s some sort of cultural competency issue that we’re just not hitting yet.”

Those students who have special education needs also haven’t shown a significant improvement, but Belcher says that’s because the students who have performed successfully in that program have moved up out of it. Overall across the past five years, the district as a whole has shown an increasing trend toward higher proficiency.

Beginning this school year, the MAP scores will be used alongside additional data such as graduation rates, attendance and ACT scores to determine the district’s accreditation.  This is a result of the recent federal waiver allowing Missouri to move away from the No Child Left Behind Act and move toward the state’s own accountability system called the Missouri School Improvement Program.