Pattonville leading effort to change state assessment system to improve student learning
Pattonville leading effort to change state assessment system to improve student learning
Thursday, January 18, 2018
The Pattonville School District is at the forefront of a movement to change Missouri’s assessment system in a way that supports students in their learning. Pattonville educators are spearheading the development of the Missouri Assessment Partnership (MOAP), an assessment consortium comprised of public school districts from across the state who seek a change in the way students are tested.

Currently, students in third through 12th grades take the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) each year. At the high-school level, MAP takes the form of end-of-course exams (EOCs), which specifically test whether students have mastered the content in individual courses, such as English language arts (ELA) and algebra. Students take the tests at the end of their course, when they are best prepared to take the exams, and educators are able to use data from the tests to help improve their instruction. At the elementary and middle school level, however, MAP is given in the spring for ELA, math and science, but covers a wide swath of information and skills that are not specifically outlined. Students and educators are never sure what the test will cover, and results are not available until the following school year.

“MAP for Grades 3 through 8 as it exists today does not inform instruction or improve student learning; yet schools must still pay attention to the test because it heavily impacts accreditation and public perception of school quality,” said Dr. Mike Fulton, Pattonville superintendent. “We’re seeking a new assessment system that’s more focused on meeting the learning needs of our students. Our current assessment system is holding districts back on innovating in ways that better support students in their learning. We hope this swell of interest from the field in MOAP’s work will bring needed change in our state assessment system.”

With MOAP, participating districts are looking to develop a new assessment system for Grades 3 through 8 which ensures students are the first audience. The assessments would use an adaptive format that measures students’ growth over time toward being ready to master high school coursework. These interim assessments would have clear, fixed learning targets similar to the high school EOCs and provide timely, meaningful feedback to students and their teachers. In addition, the test would be given multiple times during the school year to regularly gage student progress and enable educators to adjust their teaching practices more quickly to better meet students’ learning needs.

The framework for this new assessment is based on recommendations developed by the Show Me Accreditation and Assessment Task Force, which was commissioned in 2015 by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) in order to research and develop a new framework for school accreditation in the state. The study resulted in a set of recommendations provided to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Funding and legislative environments make it unlikely the current reality of MAP testing in Missouri will change in the near future, so educators in Missouri have banded together to form MOAP in order to bring about some relief from MAP in the next few years. The consortium hopes to work with DESE to seek a federal waiver to replace MAP with an interim assessment system developed by the partnership. The specific goals of MOAP are to:

  • Replace MAP testing in Grades 3 through 8 with an assessment system that promotes the following: students as the first, most important audience; giving the right test at the right time (an adaptive test); critical thinking and important conceptual understandings; local control of instructional design; engaged learners and life readiness; and continuous improvement customized to local context; and
  • Support a networked community that: collaborates on best practices in formative and interim assessments; shares data to conduct research that informs practice; designs strategies for continuous improvement; creates and advocates for research-based policy; advocates on behalf of members to connect resources and provide professional development; and collaborates with existing entities (e.g., professional organizations, cooperatives, DESE, universities) in support of local and statewide efforts to improve student achievement.
Currently, 50 districts across Missouri representing more than 240,000 students are asking their boards of education to approve memos of understanding (MOU) to join the partnership. The Pattonville Board of Education approved its own MOU during its Jan. 9 board meeting. Currently, these partner districts represent 26 percent of public school students in Missouri.

For more information, including timelines and associated costs, view a presentation on MOAP at