MAP Tests may be on the way out for high schoolers. I haven't seen anything written about it in The Globe, The Star or the Post-Dispatch, but a Missourinet report Friday said state education officials were considering replacing the tests with a slightly different version of the ACT. Though the article did not differentiate between high school MAP tests and those for lower grades, it is probably safe to assume that ACT tests could not be used for elementary students.
The Neosho Daily News Sunday featured another report on the MAP tests. Senator Gary Nodler's bill which was designed to improve state testing, was signed into law by Governor Holden.
This bill will bring the MAP tests more in line with No Child Left Behind. Right now, Missouri students have a higher difficulty level on their assessment tests than do students in other states.
I have no idea what will this mean for students or teachers. I, like many other teachers, have concerns about this constant emphasis on preparing for MAP tests. At the same time, my class has always been one that works well with MAP tests because of my emphasis on opinion/essay papers.
I have had to deal with MAP tests quite a bit during these past few years. Like all of the other teachers at South and at Diamond, I had to attend numerous workshops and in-service sessions centering around better ways to prepare students for the tests.
During my last year at Diamond Middle School, I was placed in charge of preparation for the tests. I notice that Diamond Middle School placed in the top 10 percent in the state and received an award at a banquet in Jefferson City honoring that accomplishment. Since I was the one in charge, it would have been nice if someone had at least sent me a thank-you letter. Oh, well.
I haven't been doing very well at keeping up with my nightly movies. I'll give capsule reviews of a few.
Tonight's movie was "Bend of the River" a 1954 western with Jimmy Stewart. I can't say it was a classic, but anything with Jimmy Stewart is going to be solid entertainment and that's exactly what it was. It was interesting to see the late Rock Hudson in one of his first roles. Also, the veteran character actor Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter on M.A.S.H.) was one of the bad guys.
The movie was about a reformed outlaw (Stewart) taking a wagon train of farmers into the Oregon Territory.
A movie that should have been much more than it ended up being was "Tough Guys," the last movie pairing Kirk Douglas and the late Burt Lancaster. The movie was released in 1986. Those two were great as aging bank robbers released from prison after 30 years and trying to adjust to modern society. Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live fame was less effective as their parole officer. The writing was disappointing, but Lancaster and Douglas are always a joy to watch. After a solid first half, the movie went out of control and the twosome's return to crime was a little far-fetched.
"The Ox-Bow Incident" a 1942 western starring Henry Fonda is definitely worth watching for those of you who don't mind a film in stark black and white. Though the setting is the old west, the theme is universal, as a man is murdered and a bloodthirsty mob takes after his killers, captures three men who have no alibi and prepares to hang them at a place called Ox Bow. The subject of vigilante justice is still relevant. The film is based on a novel by Walter VanTilburg Clark, and both of them are suspenseful as you wonder if the three men are going to be executed without a trial. The major difference between the book and the film version is in the character played by Fonda. In the book, the lead character is a full-fledged member of the lynch mob, while in the movie, Fonda's character reluctantly goes along and tries to stop the hanging. Playing Fonda's sidekick, it's Harry Morgan again. That guy was in a lot of good movies.
The "Ox-Bow Incident" has probably been my favorite of the movies I have watched in the last several days, but the best was probably an obscure movie from 1975 called "Smile." This one has virtually disappeared, but it was probably one of the best films of the decade, a savage satire on beauty pageants.
The movie was the one of the first efforts at placing that great character actor Bruce Dern in a lead role. Dern had always played the bad guy in TV and movie westerns, most notably in the John Wayne movie "The Young Cowboys," in which his character murdered Wayne's character midway through the movie (that didn't happen very often). Dern is great and so is Barbara Feldon as the woman who is in charge of the contest. The contestants included Melanie Griffith and Annette O'Toole before they hit the big time and Denise Nickerson, who is better known as the snotty girl in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
The movie has some brief nudity and some bad language, but it is consistently funny and hits its targets right on. This is one that deserves a revival. Anyone who takes beauty pageants seriously (and there are still a few who do) won't after they watch this movie.