Missouri students improved their English and math scores slightly over the previous year, but it's too early to call the news a trend.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the latest statewide results of its Missouri Assessment Program exams last week.
The MAP results for 2017 reflect state test results from more than 407,740 students in grades 3-8. MAP results factor into school districts' annual performance reports, and APRs determine accreditation under the Missouri School Improvement Program.
"I think we were pleased just to see there was slight improvement in all content areas across the board," DESE Communications Coordinator Sarah Potter said.
Potter cautioned, though, two years of data does not establish a trend: "We usually like to see three (years)."
The results between 2017 and 2016 are comparable, though, she said. Changes in the assessments have meant previous years aren't necessarily comparable.
Last year, 62.2 percent of third-graders in the state scored proficient or advanced in English — a 1.5 percent increase over 2016. Students in grades 4-8 improved by about 1 percent in the same category.
The lowest level of proficient or advanced scores in English remained among seventh-graders, with 59.2 percent scoring as such last year, compared to 58 percent in 2016.
The same results more or less manifested themselves in Missouri students' math MAP scores, too. Fifth-graders improved their math scores from 46.4 percent being proficient or advanced in 2016 to 48 percent last year — 1.6 percent.
There were no decreases in students' statewide English or math proficient or advanced scores. However, only 30.5 percent of eighth-graders scored as such in math, though this number does not include students who took the Algebra I end-of-course assessment.
MAP results in science also improved slightly over last year, with 45.7 percent of fifth-graders and 49 percent of eighth-graders demonstrating proficient or advanced comprehension in 2017, compared to 42.7 and 47.8 percent the previous year, respectively.
However, those numbers are still down from 47.5 and 49.4 percent, respectively, in 2015, and the science assessments have not changed in recent years.
The State Board of Education adopted new learning standards in 2016, and Potter said the improvements seen in scores are "a sign of teachers being able to adjust their teaching in the classroom" to those new standards. She added changes to math and English were not huge, and they also might be seeing the results of higher expectations under the old standards.
DESE said the state plans to roll out new tests in English and math this coming spring. A new science assessment will be operational in the 2018-19 school year, based on the results of a field test this school year.
Local MAP results are expected later this fall, and Potter said DESE should have a schedule for that release by next week.
In 2016, 47.7 percent of the Jefferson City school district's third-graders scored as proficient or advanced in English on their MAP tests, and 60 percent of seventh-graders.
In math, in 2016, 32.8 percent of the district's fifth-graders scored proficient or advanced.