Springfield school district wants out of MAP tests

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The Springfield school district plans to ask the state for permission to stop giving its students the annual MAP tests administered by school districts across Missouri.

The Missouri Assessment Program tests are given weeks after spring tests, and Springfield officials say that is too late to help students learn. The district said a series of tests it gives Springfield students does more to improve their learning and gives teachers immediate feedback.

“I don’t think the MAP test provides us with the data we need to help students,” said school board president Gerry Lee. “It’s really an autopsy type of test.”

Superintendent Norm Ridder told The Springfield News-Leader on Tuesday that the district will request a waiver from the state-mandated MAP tests in the next few weeks.

Springfield uses its own Performance Series exams, which test students in grades 3 through 8 in reading, language arts and math at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. High school students are tested in reading.

State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said the U.S. Department of Education will make a final decision on the district’s request. She met Tuesday with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss education reform, and said she supported the type of tests Springfield uses.

“What I hope we can move to is an assessment system that really focuses on the formative and benchmark assessments that happen during the year,” Nicastro said. “Those are the kind of thing that inform instruction, those are the kind of thing that make a difference in children’s learning.”

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires schools to test students in math and reading each year in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. The MAP tests were Missouri’s efforts to comply with that requirement.

This year, elementary and middle school students take the MAP exams between March 28 and April 22, but in-depth results aren’t available until the school year has ended and students have moved to the next grade.

“If you find out something isn’t working, you want to know that right away so that you can make the change immediately,“ Nicastro said. ”You don’t wait until your end-of-year report to say that something didn’t work 10, 11 or 12 months ago. ... In education, that’s kind of what we’ve got. So I think we need to talk more about an assessment system that really informs instruction and gives us the kind of real-time information we need to make adjustments.”

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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