End of Course Exams replace MAP TestsTuesday, April 21, 2009 By Mackenzie Becker
Although finals, AP exams, and the promise of summer are topics on minds of all KHS students and teachers at KHS, this year’s End of Course Exams will dominate a large part of the fourth quarter. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has eliminated the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in favor of EOC’s (or End of Course Exams). They will be administered in a wide range of subjects including biology, algebra and Sophomore English to those students who finishing study in those particular areas. DESE believes administering tests based on an actual class instead of measuring general abilities, such as math or communication arts, will provide a better idea of each teacher’s job performance and each student’s progress throughout the year. Last year, “field tests” were given at KHS and other schools across Missouri to test the practicality and work out any test problems. Several more “field tests” in the subjects of Algebra II, Freshman English, United States History, Geometry, Integrated Math II and III, and Government will be administered before they are officially a part of the state’s testing program. The state has mandated the tests be given within a certain window of time. For students and administers that window is immediately before and during Advanced Placement (AP) testing, so the district was faced with major scheduling conflicts, as the College Board sets its own testing schedule for the AP tests. “I think we get jammed up. We’re given a short window to give these tests. I don’t think people realized all the things going on in a high school,” Cathleen McGrath, freshman principal, in charge of organizing the EOC’s, said. The same EOC’s are given to every student in a particular subject, regardless of their level of study; an AP or Honors Biology student will take the same test as a regular Biology student. This means students who are already preparing to take a nationally recognized test for their college level work will have to take an additional test that is mandated by the state. Some students are questioning the importance of the EOC’s for this very reason. “I don’t think that the EOC’s will be beneficial because many students are already taking AP exams, plus we have finals,” Abbey Blue, junior, said. In addition the state is recommending that a student’s performance in a particular subject count for 10-25 percent of their overall grade as a part or in place of a final exam. At KHS the EOC’s will also be counting as 10 percent of a student’s grade, sometimes in addition to a final exam as well. “I don’t like the idea of state-mandated curriculum,” Steve Platte, AP US History teacher, said. “If you really wanted EOC’s, you would give them on the first of June or end of May, not the end of April.” The concern over the testing window and the difficulty level of the test are not the only things occupying KHS teachers’ minds. “Why not take nationally known tests, the SAT II’s” said Platte. The SAT II’s or SAT Subject Tests are given in a wide range of subjects including U.S. History, World History, Mathematics Level I and II, Chemistry, Biology and many more. These tests allow students to be tested on a national scale and can sometimes make them more desirable in the college admissions process. The most competitive universities require SAT Subject tests for admissions. Regardless of efficiency or scheduling, the EOC’s are set to begin April 27 and go until May 15.