Full results from the state tests that Missouri public school students took last spring have been delayed, according to a new memo from education officials.
One of the advantages of the new, online exam was supposed to be that schools would get results back sooner — within 10 days of completion — than with the traditional paper and pencil test. Instead, district administrators have just received results from the Missouri Assessment Program and are still waiting for those from students with cognitive disabilities. The date students took the test ranged from March 30 through May 22.
Some schools had told parents they would have their child’s individual results with their final report card before the school year ended.
The delay means that the state’s yearly rating of school districts, called the Annual Performance Report, will be at least two months late and not available before mid-October. State officials use the score from the report to determine a district’s accreditation status based on student test performance, attendance, graduation rates and other factors.
And districts that have lost accreditation have administrators on the edge of their seats waiting to see the results.
Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon said the performance on the tests is critically important as the district works to restore academic honor to all of its schools and regain district accreditation. He is optimistic the district will show improvement.
“We would love to have our APR back as early as possible, but recognize that all districts administered new assessments this year and know it takes more time to produce accurate results,” he said.
A Missouri law upheld by the state Supreme Court allows students to transfer from unaccredited districts to higher-performing ones, with the cost of transportation and tuition falling on their home district. The law has drained millions of dollars from Riverview Gardens and Normandy, the other unaccredited district in the region.
The new tests this year not only changed the way students took the exam, but the content used to measure their knowledge.
With new assessments, and new assessment vendors, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is taking extra steps this year to ensure that the data are accurate before producing the 2015 annual performance reports, said Chris Neale, assistant commissioner, in a memo to school district administrators.
“Information must be thoroughly examined to ensure that it is accurate, as many important decisions are made based on these outcomes. The process cannot compromise the decisions with either tardiness or inaccuracy,” Neale wrote.
Statewide average results will be released to the public in August, but district and school-level data will be released in late September or mid-October.
School district administrators say while the delay is inconvenient, they have a general sense of how students did with the results just received.
“It’s certainly not ideal. Anytime it’s late it makes it difficult to use the information in any meaningful way,” said Kevin Beckner, coordinator of student assessment for the Parkway School District. “But at the end of the day, we still have a good picture of how our students performed.”