Press "Enter" to skip to content

Missouri test scores fell amid the pandemic, DESE reports

Overall scores for the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test fell last school year, something the state’s education department attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic

Proficient and advanced scores in English and language arts were the highest at 45 percent, while science came in at 37 percent and math at 35 percent. The largest decrease compared to the 2018-2019 school year was in Algebra 1, which saw a near 10 percent drop in average scores compared to the 2019 test. 

“Districts and charter schools across the state worked extremely hard to focus on the well-being and academic success of students during the extraordinary 2020-21 school year,” Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) Commissioner Margie Vandeven said. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most aspects of last school year were not typical. I urge stakeholders to use these data to learn from this experience and inform how to deploy resources to best support students, educators, and schools.” 

About 90 percent of Missouri students participated in the assessments. The state is typically required to ensure a 95 percent participation rate, but the target was reduced to 85 percent because of the pandemic. 

Optional Physical Science and English End of Course (EOC) assessment scores increased, but all other subjects saw drops in scoring, the department told the state Board of Education Tuesday. 

“Students are more than test scores,” Lisa Sireno, DESE’s standards and assessment administrator, said. “Our students are resilient and eager to learn. Our teachers deeply care about their students and are committing to seeing each student succeed by building upon their knowledge and skills and experiences. We look forward to working alongside our school leaders as we continue to improve lives through education.”

More than half of the students who participated in this year’s test were learning onsite this school year while only 10 percent were virtual. More than 80 percent of this year’s participants reported access to necessary devices while 78 percent cited internet access. 

“A big question that we’ve had is, ‘How does the digital divide play into this?’” Vandeven said. “When we look at the federal dollars that are coming in to assist in these recovery efforts, that certainly seems to be a very significant place for us to streamline those dollars. … We do think studying the results of this pandemic on educational opportunities is really very important.” 

DESE plans to invest a portion of the state’s $1.96 billion American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) allotment to bolster access to broadband and technology for students and schools. 

Gov. Mike Parson also announced a $400 million state and federal investment last month, with an additional $600,000 grant on its way from the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

The assessment results will be used by districts and the state to determine how schools have fared with the volatile school year and assess the level of learning loss in their communities. The board voted to waive the use of state assessment results to determine state and federal funding purposes last year, noting the results would vary wildly compared to past years due to learning shifts and interruptions.