It could be January 2019 or later before St. Joseph and other school districts across the state know how their students performed on last year’s Missouri Assessment Program tests.

The release of the state’s 2017-18 annual progress reports, which contain MAP test results, is delayed as the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education makes some key determinations about how to score the tests. In the meantime, the situation is leaving school districts like St. Joseph to lean more heavily on predictions and internal measures to chart student growth.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marlie Williams said the delay is disappointing, because the St. Joseph School District’s predictive measures show students made “very positive” gains last year.

On one hand, Williams said, the district is eager to share those gains, if they hold true in the state’s final report. On the other hand, “We want to know why,” she said, if the predictions don’t hold true.

The trouble is rooted in the introduction of new grade-level and end-of-course exams this year in math and English language arts. The state has introduced new exams in those subject areas three times since 2015, according to an Oct. 23 DESE State Assessment Update, but is struggling this year to settle on scores that separate the advanced, proficient, basic and below-basic proficiency levels.

“For instance, in one grade level, 19 percent of the students may be advanced, and in the very next grade level, 10 percent of the scores may be advanced,” Williams said. “So there is some concern about the bandwidth being different from grade level to grade level.”

The state board of education is being presented possible solutions, but, by DESE’s most current estimate, APRs won’t be released until at least mid-December. Still, Williams told the St. Joseph Board of Education that timeline is likely to prove inaccurate, and it could be well into 2019 before final reports come through.

Typically, school districts have final APR reports in hand about this time of year.

The later that results come in, the less time the district has to take action on them.

“It’s always ideal if we have our APR results back in a timely fashion, so that we’re able to take action, make sure that our curriculum is aligned, make sure that if we do notice any misalignments or mismatches that we can make adjustments,” Williams said. “When you’re looking at December, January, potentially even up until March for those results to come back, those really become situations where you reflect on that information and you take action for the next academic year.”

In the meantime, the St. Joseph School District will lean on internal assessment tools, from which it gathers data throughout the year.

Zach McNulty can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowMcNulty.

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