The Joplin Globe's article on Joplin R-8 map scores has R-8 officials steamed and I am not happy about it either.
The Globe headline said that the school district had "reached a plateau" in MAP scores, making it sound as if Joplin schools were stuck and not moving forward. The district has 34 schools and 26 of them saw improvements, some substantial, in their scores. Once again, it is a case of the Globe showing its the big bully on the block by emphasizing the bad just because it can.
The Joplin R-8 schools, and many others in southwest Missouri, are improving on their scores. That needs to be emphasized. If the Globe wants to do some investigative reporting, it should look into the inherent flaws of the MAP tests, something that I discussed with the students in my communication arts classes at South on Friday.
These kids had improved the school's communication arts scores when they took the test last year as seventh graders. That result, however, does not tell us anything. It does not show that these students are improving in their reading and writing skills because they are not being compared against what they have done in the past. They are being compared against what the previous year's seventh graders did.
Let's use a hypothetical example to show how this logic is flawed. Take a high school basketball team with five senior starters, including a talented seven-foot center, a 6-11, 6-10 front line, a 6-6 point guard and a 6-4 shooting guard. The team does extremely well. The following year, none of those players return, the tallest player is 6-2 and the team is expected to win more games. That is ridiculous.
Testing can be a useful tool, but it should not be the be-all and end-all of education. As long as these decisions are being made by legislators who are looking for campaign issues and bureaucrats who want to justify their continued existence, we will continue to have major problems in education.
As for The Joplin Globe, shall we talk about how its circulation has really plateaued?
Speaking of MAP scores, I have decided not to print any more results at the present time. The Globe will be doing a more complete article lilsting these scores in its Sunday edition. I may have some commentary after I have looked over those scores.
The Lamar Fair queen will be crowned tonight and that brings back some fond memories. I covered my first Lamar Fair Queen Contest in 1978. I believe Beth Joyce was the queen that year. I covered the contest every year from 1983 through 1999, except for 1990. But that year's queen, Renee Buffington, helped me get one of my better photos. I talked to Renee during a break in the 1991 pageant, which was the first one to be held in the Thiebaud Auditorium. I told her if she stood to the side of the queen when she crowned her successor, I would be able to get both girls' faces in the picture. One of the biggest problems of trying to take a picture of the actual moment of the crowning is that the girl usually has her face blocked by the person crowning her, whose rear is facing the camera. That is not a good photo.
Renee remembered and I was able to run a good photo of Queen Melissa Main in The Press the next day.
Other memories of the queen contest include:
-Interviewing Queen Jennifer Lenz, who later was crowned Miss Arizona USA, who talked about the lucky penny she carried in her shoe and about her mother's battle with breast cancer.
-1986, when Leisha Maupin came out of nowhere to win the crown. I anticipated Leisha was going to win it and had the camera trained on her when the announcement was made. She had a great reaction which would have made a wonderful photo, but I didn't get it in focus.
-1987, I believe, when I tried the same tactic, anticipating that Tanya Tahhan would be crowned. This time, I got the photo. It was a little out of focus, but I got the photo, by golly.
-The year Heather Brandell was crowned. Heather, I believe, is the only Lamar Fair Queen who is no longer with us. She was a wonderful interview. I remember she was worried about her interviews. She had talked about her love of reading, which would seem to be a positive. However, it was her love of reading romance novels.
-Checking out the photos of all of the queens from 1958 on that were in the display window at Walters Studio every August.
If I thought about it, I know I could come up with many more memories.That was always an event I loved covering.