Missouri's Assessment and Standards Changes
How 10 years of change came about and impacted schools
With the end of another school year comes the end of spring Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing. For the second consecutive year, MAP tests have been aligned to the Missouri Learning Standards adopted in 2016. While some might question why that is noteworthy, anyone associated with MAP and the recent history of academic standards in Missouri understands the significance of this continuity.
In 2010, Missouri, like most other states, adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This triggered a series of actions beginning with a legislative mandate to cease use of the CCSS, leave the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and use workgroups of Missourians appointed by select individuals and groups to develop new learning standards and state summative assessments. The required changes and the short time frame allowed for development and implementation resulted in four different state summative assessments within a five-year period. This type of instability is disruptive to students as well as to educators who must redevelop curriculum to realign with new standards and assessments. Furthermore, it makes it difficult for state leaders and policymakers to ascertain overall education outcomes and trends.
The utility of a statewide summative assessment system such as the MAP sometimes gets called into question. However, when situated in its appropriate context, the MAP can provide a meaningful overall view of learning outcomes. In a comprehensive assessment system, formative and interim assessments are given at the local level and used to adjust instruction throughout the year. The MAP as a summative assessment can provide school and district leaders, state education leaders, and policymakers a broad perspective on achievement levels and achievement trends as they make decisions and prioritize resources.
Missouri’s required move away from the CCSS and toward development of new standards and assessments came at a high price--literally. From 2014 to 2015, state funding for assessments increased from approximately $16 million to $26 million. Each year since 2015, funding for state assessment has been more than $20 million. In 2015, HB 2 (the Elementary and Secondary Education budget bill) directed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to spend $7 million “solely for development of a Missouri-based state assessment plan…”
Our policy brief this week reviews in more detail Missouri’s recent history with standards and assessments and how changes to large-scale assessment systems impacts state and local policy decisions and funding.