Revised Missouri Learning Standards prompt test changes

One of the signs of spring in the Hannibal public school district is the taking of state-mandated tests. While taking exams with acronyms of MAP and EOC is commonplace, this year those tests have presented new challenges for test-givers and test-takers alike.

“Over the last 10 years, there have been several significant changes to Missouri’s Learning Standards, all of which have impacted testing but I do not recall a year with so many first-time experiences with state assessment,” said Maria Mundle, assistant superintendent in the Hannibal public school district.

While this year’s tests may be different, the objective of teachers remains the same.

“This work of meeting students where they are, assisting them in their growth and development toward meeting or exceeding grade level expectations is always on-going,” said Mundle. “Our teachers do a tremendous amount of work in instructional planning and design to ensure that students receive what they need to not only reach state standards but their full potential.”

At Hannibal High School the final round of End of Course (EOC) exams got underway Monday, April 30, when Algebra I testing began. The math test follows exams earlier this spring in Government, Biology and English II.

This year’s EOC exams have been revised in each category.

“The End of Course exams have been around for many years,” Mundle said. “This year their testing content is also aligned to the new Missouri Learning Standards. So there are ‘new’ tests for Algebra I, Biology and English II.”

A student’s opportunity to wear a cap and gown later this month at Porter Stadium does not hinge on doing well on the EOCs.

“Student performance on an EOC may be used as part of a student’s grade in the course. However, there is not a level of proficiency required for high school graduation,” said Mundle. “These tests are required to be taken before a student completes high school.”

EOCs are not given based on a student’s year in school, but on his or her academic progress in different subject areas.

“Typically these tests are given to students when they successfully complete the related course - Algebra I, English II, Government and Biology. All students are required to take these tests prior to graduation,” said Mundle.

Students who choose to graduate at midterm do not escape taking EOCs, according to Mundle.

“All students must take the required exams before graduating,” she said.

Another test that students are well familiar with is the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program), which is given to youngsters in grade levels 3 through 8 and includes English/Language Arts and Math.

In March, Mundle advised the school board that both tests have been aligned to the new Missouri Learning Standards. She noted that this would be the first year they will be given statewide. Mundle added that the MAP test in Science, which is also now aligned to the new Missouri Learning Standards, is given in grades 5 and 8 only.

“This spring will be a pilot test for Science,” said Mundle in March. “No scores will be returned to students.”

As for not returning the MAP scores in Science, Mundle said that is a “standard practice when it comes to a pilot test.”

While neither individual students or school districts will be provided the results of the Science tests, the scores will prove beneficial at a higher level.

“Results will be utilized at the state level and by the testing vendor to determine which test items were valid, reliable and were effective measures of the intended standard. They will be used to guide the development of the final version of the Science test,” said Mundle.

Just because the tests have been aligned to the new Missouri Learning Standards doesn’t mean the level of difficulty has been increased or decreased.

“The new Missouri Learning Standards are similar in rigor to our last set of state standards. I’m expecting the tests to also be similar,” said Mundle.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com