Please VOTE DAVID on April 2

Student Learning – Part 2

Elementary students need a solid foundation in English and math to prepare them for future academic success. I focus this post on test results in math of third- through fifth-grade students (Figure 1) in part because of my concern with the overall decline in math literacy in Lindbergh and in the U.S. (Please refer to my post entitled “Concerns of a University Professor”).

Shown in figure 1 is a decade of end-of-year Missouri (MAP) test results of Lindbergh third- through fifth-grade students (Footnote #1). Schools are ordered alphabetically from left to right, and the Missouri total test results are shown in the far-right column. The Department of Secondary Education (DESE), who administers these tests, separates students’ numerical scores into four categories. According to their guidelines, students who score high enough to fall in the light-green proficient and dark-green advanced proficiency categories “… are prepared for the next grade level….”. Correspondingly, students who test in the light-red basic category “…need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level….”. And students who test in the dark-red below basic category “…need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level….” (Footnote #2).

The Missouri data includes test results from 500+ school districts and 180,000+ third-through fifth-grade students (~60k students in each grade). The division between “proficient” and “basic” results are marked with the solid black line in the Missouri data and superimposed over the individual school data of Lindbergh for reference.

I will highlight a few observations of the data though many could be made. I will not provide my hypotheses to explain the observations at this time: I will leave that with you.

(1) In the Missouri data (far-right column), the percentage of students below “proficient” level has remained the same for 4th grade and increased modestly through time for 3rd and 5th grades. These temporal trends are consistent with the overall difficulty of the math tests having remained constant or changed slightly through time and student learning remained constant or slightly decreased through time. The step changes in test results between individual years, for example between 2015 and 2016 and also 2017 and 2018, reflect modest changes in the MAP test content and/or difficulty between adjacent years (Footnote #3).

(2) In Lindbergh elementary schools, the percentage of students below “proficient” level has progressively increased from 2012 to 2019 resulting in more students testing at “basic” and “below basic” levels (i.e., below grade level). Between 2019 to 2021, all Lindbergh elementary schools except Sappington experienced a pandemic-induced decrease in student learning, though some of the changes were more than double the change experienced by all Missouri students. Why?

(3) There are differences in test results among the six elementary schools and among grade levels within the same schools, both pre- and post-pandemic. Why?

(4) While Lindbergh elementary students were doing much better on the math test than their State peers in 2012, they have tested more similarly to their State peers in the ensuing decade especially after pandemic year 2020. Why?
What is abundantly clear from this data is that much has changed in the past decade regarding Lindbergh students’ MAP test scores. Why?

I believe it is important for Board of Education members to educate themselves on topics facing the District, such as the decline in MAP test results. If elected, I will endeavor to educate myself and others, and to ask questions of the community and Administration that help restore the academic excellence of Lindbergh.

Please VOTE DAVID on April 2, and thank you for reading.
Footnote #1 – When five or fewer students are grouped in one category, DESE will not provide the absolute number of students in that category nor the number of students in the category with the second fewest students, irrespective of the number. This is done to help protect the anonymity of the students in these categories. Consequently, in the figure below, the combination of “Basic + Below Basic” had to be displayed together, or blanked out (e.g., 2023 in Crestwood Elementary).

Footnote #2 –…/map-grade-level-assessment-spring…

Footnote #3 – Data for 2015 is not included because the MAP Math tests of that year were sufficiently different from other years that the results are not comparable and thus DESE does not release the data to the public. I obtained a document from DESE that chronicles the changes in MAP design and implementation over the past several decades. For example, the Missouri Learning Standards were updated in 2016 and first used in the MAP math tests in academic 2018. Consequently, the small step changes in test results for all grade levels between 2017 and 2018 probably reflect the changes in standards being tested.