Student achievement on Missouri's annual assessment tests held steady in communication arts and increased in science this year, state education officials report.
State-level results from the 2012-2013 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing were reviewed by the State Board of Education, who met Monday in Jefferson City.
Overall, students continue to maintain most of the gains they have made on the assessments during the past five years.
The percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced level in communication arts was 55.6 percent, the same rate as 2012.
Students scoring proficient or advanced in science rose from 52.2 percent in 2012 to 59.1 percent 2013.
The state's math scores declined slightly this year with the exception of the Algebra I end-of-course test. Students scoring at the proficient or advanced level on the Algebra I test increased from 56.6 percent in 2012 to 57 percent in 2013.
Overall in math, students scoring proficient or advanced decreased from 55.5 percent in 2012 to 53.9 percent in 2013.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education changed the way math assessment tests were conducted and reported at the eighth grade level this year. In previous years, eighth graders enrolled in algebra took both the regular eighth grade math assessment and the Algebra I end-of-course test.
This year's eighth grade algebra students took only the end-of-course test. The results have been adjusted to reflect this change in population, but the overall performance of both groups did not change appreciably.
Missouri students made notable progress on the Biology I end-of course test. The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced rose from 55.1 percent in 2012 to 74 percent in 2013.
Education officials attribute the sizable gains in part to schools increasing their focus on science education as they work to prepare students for college and the workforce.
College and career readiness is one of the primary goals of the state's Top 10 by 20 plan, which calls for Missouri to rank among the top 10 performing states in the nation in education by the year 2020.
MAP tests are administered annually at all public schools in Missouri. Nearly 600,000 students in grades three through 12 took the tests during the 2012-2013 school year.
Communication arts and math assessments are given in grades three through eight. Science assessments are given in grades five and eight. Required end-of-course exams are given for English II, Algebra I, Biology I and government. Optional end-of-course exams are given for English I, Algebra 2, geometry and American history.
MAP test scores and other performance measures are used to develop school- and district-level Annual Performance Reports (APRs). The APR, the foundation for Missouri's accreditation requirements for public school districts, provides an update on how schools and local education agencies are meeting state education standards in five areas: academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career or high school readiness, attendance and graduation rate. APRs and test scores for specific school districts will be released later this week.