The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test results for the 2008-2009 school year. And while there are positive results to be celebrated there are concerns with Missouri fully complying with federal No Child Left Behind goals.

Stan Johnson, DESE’s Assistant Commissioner for the Division of School Improvement, says Missouri students continue to make slow but steady improvement in mathematics and communication arts.

"We have four levels: Below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced," said Johnson in an interview with the Missourinet. "We kind of hone in on the percent of students scoring proficient and advanced, then we compare that to the last testing cycle which was, of course, a year ago. And as we go through the data on a statewide basis we see that in each grade, in each content – with the exception of one grade – we actually increased the number of students going into proficient and advanced over the prior year."

The improvement is not drastic, but it is improvement.

"Some of it was a relatively small increase, maybe .2 up to almost 3 percent," said Johnson. "But any growth is good."

But concerns remain with Adequate Yearly Progress, which is tied to No Child Left Behind. For 2009, the ever-rising annual benchmark for adequacy – among all students and subgroups – is 59.2 percent for communication arts and 54.1 percent for math. Missouri students – as a whole – met the adequacy requirement in both subjects.

Among subgroups, the standard for both subjects was met by Asian/Pacific Islander and white students. Blacks, Hispanics, free- or reduced-price lunch students, limited English proficiency students, and students with disabilities – as subgroups – failed to meet either of the adequacy targets. American Indian or Alaska Native students met the goal in communication arts but failed to hit the target in mathematics.

Johnson realizes Missouri has fallen short, but says it has a lot to do with high standards in this state.

"We have high expectations for kids," said Johnson. "And when you have the standards that we have in Missouri you make that 100 percent goal in 2014 simply not practical."

The federal goal is to have 100 percent adequacy in both subjects by 2014.

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