Schools in Missouri seek to opt out of state testing

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:46 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Last year, state lawmakers gave the Missouri Board of Education the power to grant school districts exemptions from state education laws or regulations for up to three years.

At the latest State Board of Education meeting, nearly two dozen Missouri school districts asked to use a new state law to opt out of Missouri’s standardized state tests in lieu of a different style of evaluation.

“Things change with time,” said Lee’s Summit parent Jay McAfee. “So, therefore, I just have to adjust and adapt with it.”

One of the districts looking to make switch is the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

Instead of using the Missouri Assessment Program’s standardized annual test and getting results several months later, the schools are proposing administering multiple tests throughout the school year to provide results instantly – much like benchmarks.

“Certainly benchmarks are important as long as we come from the understanding that this benchmark is to support this actual student,” said Thou Yang, a Lee’s Summit resident who teaches in another district. “Do we have the time for that? I can’t really say throughout the school year. The more benchmarks we do, the less time we have to focus on the student.”

Leaders are touting the immediate results and how they will better serve students and teachers, giving them specific statistics pertaining to areas needing improvement.

“As long as the student is at the center of this,” Yang added. “I believe it can be helpful. However, if it’s just for numbers, we’re going to run into a numbers game and it’s not going to help the student or the teacher.”

While some parents in Lee’s Summit said it’s a method worth trying, others said the traditional evaluation is a proven one.

“It served its purpose,” McAfee recalled. “It allowed not only the teachers and the staff at the school but me, as well, to know where I’m at as far as the education level I was on.”

The State Board does have to approve the requests from school districts. The requests are called “School Innovation Waivers.”

According to the board, waivers may be effective up to three years.