No Missouri district in the Kansas City metropolitan area made adequate yearly progress (AYP) last year, according to the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act. Last week, Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released preliminary AYP scores for the 2010-2011 school year. Schools may appeal to have data corrected, and the department plans to release a final report in September.
The United States Congress, when it enacted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directed that each year public schools administer standardized tests to determine student academic achievement. Each spring, students in the Show-Me State take Missouri Assessment Program tests. Education officials use these scores — along with attendance and graduation rates — to calculate AYP.
However, these tests do not appear to measure academic achievement. What they may be measuring, instead, is household income.
School districts do not keep statistics on household income, but they do keep statistics on percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced-cost meals. According to this measure, the Kansas City, Missouri School District has the largest number of disadvantaged students and Lee’s Summit has the fewest.
And here is a chart showing the districts in order of affluence (from left to right) along with the percentage of students proficient on the communication arts and mathematics portions of last spring’s MAP tests:
The blue line represents communication arts and the red line represents math scores.
According to this chart, MAP test scores are lower for less affluent districts and higher in wealthier districts.
At the top of the chart, the blue and red lines represent the scores for all students. The purple and green lines — which represent the scores for students eligible for free and reduced-cost meals — mirror the first set of scores with two striking differences. First, scores for students from disadvantaged households are lower. Second, scores for all students are closer together in the districts with more lower-income families and spread farther apart for the wealthier districts.
This chart could be a picture of the gap between rich and poor on the Missouri side of the state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
If so, then what these MAP test scores on the districts’ AYP reports may be measuring is the relative affluence of students’ families rather than their academic achievement.
The Kansas State Department of Education has published a list of districts and schools that did not make AYP in 2010-2011, but they have not yet published proficiency statistics.