- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Most students at Missouri’s two failing school districts aren’t proficient in math or English and scored lower on standardized tests than students statewide, data released Monday by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show.

Scores show a majority of students at Normandy and Riverview Gardens schools in the St. Louis area scored poorly on new statewide standardized tests administered in the spring.

Education officials have cautioned that it’s difficult to compare school results this year to last year because students were given a new test this year. That test was designed to gauge how well students are learning new English and mathematics standards aligned with the national Common Core guidelines, which were fully implemented in Missouri schools for the first time last school year.

Normandy and Riverview students scored well below Missouri students as a whole in every subject.

While about 60 percent of Missouri students tested as proficient or better in English, only about 24 percent of Normandy students and 23 percent of Riverview students scored at that level. Math scores from the two schools also were significantly lower than at the state level, with students in most grades scoring about 45 percent versus 12.4 percent in Normandy and 12.6 percent in Riverview Gardens.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson said in a statement that the system is “confident we will show measurable growth during this school year” and cited efforts such as a reading intervention program for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“While the challenges are many, we are making progress and we are confident Missouri (Assessment Program) scores both now and in the future will measure our academic growth,” Pearson said

Assessment scores for districts typically are used in part to rate whether Missouri schools deserve accreditation. Both Normandy and Riverview lost accreditation, and as a result must pay tuition for students who decide to switch to better-performing schools nearby under the state’s student transfers law.

Legislation passed last year blocked scores from pilot tests from being used to lower a district’s accreditation score, meaning districts don’t have to worry about poor tests harming their overall performance rating this year. Scores can be used to raise a district’s performance rating.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also grants accreditation based on factors such as high school or college and career readiness, attendance rates and graduation rates.

“It’s not that districts are completely off the hook,” Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said after the release of statewide data last week. “It’s that these particular tests cannot be used to lower.”


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