20 Missouri Districts Get the Green Light to Try New Assessment System
New beginnings are in the air in Missouri. Some families are sending their children off to college for the first time. Some students will be starting at a new school very soon. Twenty* Missouri school districts are seeing changes too, as a new adaptive standardized testing system—the Demonstration Project—was just approved for these 20 districts by the State Board of Education effective this school year through the 2025–2026 school year.
*Affton, Branson, Center, Confluence Academies, Fayette, Lebanon, Lee’s Summit, Lewis County, Liberty, Lindbergh, Lonedell, Mehlville, Neosho, Ozark, Parkway, Pattonville, Raymore-Peculiar, Ritenour, Ste. Genevieve, and Shell Knob
The Demonstration Project is a formal trial implemented with the goal of determining whether the Missouri Assessment Project (MAP) (which tests at the end of the year) should be replaced with an individualized and continuous system. I have discussed the details, benefits, and concerns with this project in two previous posts. If this new system sees success, Missouri could try to incorporate it statewide.
What will change for students this year?
Students in these 20 districts will be tested more frequently—three times in English/language arts (ELA) and three times in math (45 minutes for each subject), and the assessments will be on a computer. Students should know that it is an adaptive test, meaning the test will change in real time based on the responses—if a student misses questions, the test offers easier questions and vice versa. For a test taker, this means one cannot afford to make any careless mistakes. On traditional tests, all questions are weighted equally, so if one accidentally marks bubble C instead of bubble B, it will count as one mistake. However, if one accidentally picks bubble C or carelessly forgets to flip the sign on a negative number, the adaptive test will count it wrong and think the student cannot do harder problems since one of the easier problems was missed. Therefore, students should double check their work, because a careless mistake on the wrong problem can tank their score.
Students in these 20 districts will also take the MAP this year. The federal government mandates that every district in a state participate in a uniform standardized test. The MAP is a federally approved and mandated test, so any exemption from taking the MAP would have to come directly from the federal government. These 20 districts have requested a federal waiver, and we will see whether it is accepted or not.
What will change for parents?
The results of these student assessments will return quickly via an online form, and there will be a detailed breakdown of each student’s strengths and weaknesses (here is an example of adaptive test results). A dashboard will also be designed to report annual performance targets and goals. Page 29 of this report shows a sample dashboard. A parent should be able to access information relating to their district via the dashboard.
Hopefully this new trial will yield success that can help us find better ways to teach and assess our students.