State officials look for MAP test alternative

State officials look for MAP test alternative
By: Holly Brantley
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - School leaders and students usually dread the yearly tests that determined student progress and school funding. But if the State Board of Education has its way, the assessment tests, could soon be a thing of the past.
The MAP tests students progress in key subjects including reading, math, and science. It also tests how effective students are learning in each individual school.
An alternative test would have to meet the same requirements including guidelines of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Educators and students say they are ready for a change.
"It's hard to take MAP seriously," said Emily Heitt.
"I don't believe it does anything at all. You can't prepare for it. It doesn't help me in high school," said Anwar Glenn.
Dr. Mike Cowan of Cape Central High School was among three high school principals in the state of Missouri who served on a task for to discuss alternatives to the MAP.
"MAP has been a colossal failure," said Dr. Cowan. "It imploded as many predicted it would.'
The ACT college admission test was discussed as a possible alternate. But it's probably not an option anymore.
"Rather than go with the ACT, the State Board of Education is looking at end of course exams," Cowan explained.
Cowan says that's unfortunate. He says an opportunity for every student to take the ACT would mean some students may discover potential they never knew they had. Kids who might not have considered themselves college material could have learned otherwise. Cowan says some schools were concerned money would be a factor. Others, mainly in urban areas, are concerned about performance.
"We had the opportunity to provide a tremendous education experience to every kid in the state of Missouri and we're about to miss that," said Cowan.
Seniors like Carsen Bahn say students would appreciate the opportunity to take the ACT. Bahn says students would take a test more seriously that had a direct effect on their future. "It could definitely encourage students who weren't thinking about college to go on with their education," said Bahn.
Central already has end of course exams. So, Dr. Cowan says he's not exactly enthusiastic about the possibility of changing their procedures based on Map. Cowan says he's not sure what will happen if the Board decides to go in that direction. Still, he is excited about any alternative to the MAP test.
"I'm thrilled the MAP is going by the wayside. However, that's not absolute," said Cowan.
The State Board of Education will meet again in February to talk more about the possibility of scrapping the MAP test and what could replace.
"The MAP may very well remain in place," said Cowan.
Students say they'd like to see a test, like the ACT, that would help them see their personal attention.
College admissions departments we spoke with say they would have been in favor of the ACT as an assessment tool.