R-2 students will take MO LEAP assessment to determine back-to-school ‘gains and gaps’

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/13/20

Gasconade County R-2 students will begin the 2020-21 school year with a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) learning assessment to see where their “gains and gaps” are …

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R-2 students will take MO LEAP assessment to determine back-to-school ‘gains and gaps’

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Gasconade County R-2 students will begin the 2020-21 school year with a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) learning assessment to see where their “gains and gaps” are in the learning curriculum.

The Missouri Learning, Engagement and Preparation (MO LEAP) program, according to Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner on July 28, was built as a resource for schools to use as they return from a six-month break due to COVID-19.

“MO LEAP testing guidelines from DESE is going to assess kids right when they come back to school — to assess learning gains or gaps,” Garner said. “It’s not state-mandated testing. It’s to try to provide a resource for school districts to see where students are.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy specializes in student learning assessments.

“The task force for learning acceleration was put together for the mission of moving students forward,” Hardy said. “They know there are going to be gaps in the learning because of COVID.”

Hardy explains that MO LEAP is trying to come up with learning preparation blocks and designs to support rigorous grade-content to target students and meet them where they are according to the Missouri Learning Standards.

MO LEAP focuses on foundational skills — what students need to learn and remediate. Then it goes back to the curriculum to reinforce skills that students may have missed.

“In subject matters, learning blocks will bundle learning expectations with grade level and acceleration of skills,” Hardy said.

However, the assessment that is designed to review the standards from the previous grade level, test where students are at the beginning of the school year, and help teachers fill in the gaps, had not been released as of Friday (Aug. 7) for school districts to review.

“It will also reflect on the contact they have and the process by which they learned,” Hardy said. “The key for the coming school year is flexibility because we have to meet students where they are. We know going into the school year that each student is going to be in a different area and how to best teach that student.”

Hardy said the district will be able to use programs like iReady that they have utilized for the past several school years. Gasconade R-2 already uses iReady to test mathematics and language arts at the beginning and end of the school year and as a progress assessment at the middle of the school year to measure growth.

“Acceleration of learning is needed to fill the gaps,” Hardy said. “We still have the responsibility to make sure when students graduate that they are successful. That didn’t stop just because the COVID became something that was real.”

Hardy said the district still has a responsibility to students who will be future nurses, doctors, factory workers and skilled technical workers to help them become the best that they can be.

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