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Missouri report cards difficult to analyze amid test errors

Missouri report cards difficult to analyze amid test errors

November 16th, 2017 by Associated Press in Local News

Annual report cards on Missouri school districts and charter schools have been released, but it's difficult to know exactly how well schools performed and how their scores compare to past years based on available data.

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch examined data included in the 2017 Annual Performance Report and Missouri Assessment Program scores for school districts in the St. Louis area. But errors in the state's standardized tests resulted in some scores being withheld.

The performance reports, released Wednesday, are based on performance in the 2016-2017 school year and score districts on measures such as academics, college and career readiness, student attendance and graduation rates. The reports are displayed as a percentage of the possible points earned by each district.

Scores from the Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, reflect the percentage of students testing either proficient or advanced on subject exams in 2017 in all grades. Those scores aren't displayed for subjects that had missing or incomplete data.

At issue is the state's omission of scores on algebra I and English II, which are required high school-level tests, from calculations of this year's performance reports. State education officials said there were errors in the tests that were provided by a third-party vendor.

To make up for the issue, the state calculated this year's score by taking the highest point totals for each district or charter school in the English and math categories for performance reports going back to 2014. The calculation process, called "hold harmless," saved several public schools from significantly lower scores.

Education officials said that had it not been for hold harmless, eight school districts and 12 St. Louis charter schools would have scored below the fully accredited range, and seven of those charter schools would have scored in the unaccredited range.

"We've already had some pretty serious conversations with those schools and saying, 'Well, you can say your annual performance report is here but let's make sure we don't fool ourselves in looking forward,'" said Bill Mendelsohn, director of charter schools for University of Missouri-St. Louis, which sponsors some of the area's charter schools.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Education said they have area supervisors working with those districts and charter schools on improvement plans.

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