While all school districts in Eastern Jackson County will maintain accreditation, results are mixed as to how they fared under the new accreditation standards implemented by the state of Missouri.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2013 Missouri Assessment Program and the Annual Performance Report scores today.
The Missouri School Improvement Program is the state’s system for accrediting public school districts in Missouri. Started in 1990, this is the fifth version of the process often referred to as MSIP 5. There are five performance standards that are taken into consideration:
n Academic achievement - how students perform on the MAP exam, including demonstrated improvement.
n Subgroup achievement - the district must demonstrate improvement in student performance for its identified subgroups. These include free and reduced lunch, English Language Learners, special education and racial/ethnic background.
n College and career readiness - the district must show it is providing adequate preparation for students after high school. In addition, the score is based on how well students do on exams such as the ACT, SAT, COMPASS or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as well as on Advanced Placement exams.
n Attendance rate - 90 percent of the students must be in attendance 90 percent of the time.
n Graduation rate.
Points are given on each standard. Brad Welle, assistant superintendent for academic and student services in the Grain Valley School District, said schools can earn higher scores in two ways - either when the percentage of students achieving at the advanced or proficient levels reaches target levels for the year 2020 or by increasing the level of student performance by showing significant improvement over previous years.
Districts that receive 90 percent of possible points earned are accredited with distinction. School Districts that earn 70 to 90 percent of possible points are accredited and districts that received 50 to 69.9 percent receive provisional accreditation. Districts with less than 50 percent are unaccredited.
Kansas City, which lost its accreditation in January 2012, earned 60 percent. That means the district has made enough academic gains that it could regain provisional accreditation.
ACCREDITED WITH DISTINCTION
Three area school districts earned more than 90 percent - Blue Springs, 97.9 percent, Lee’s Summit, 96.1 percent and Oak Grove, 93.6 percent. Blue Springs earned perfect scores in all categories with the exception of two areas. They lost half a point on one of the college and career readiness subgroups and lost points in attendance. Lee’s Summit was also close to perfection, losing points in academic achievement and subgroup achievement. Oak Grove lost points in subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rate.
As for the remaining school districts, Raytown earned 85 percent, Grain Valley earned 83.9, Independence earned 73.2 percent and Fort Osage earned 72.5 percent.
Some might be surprised at the scores Independence and Fort Osage received since both earned perfect scores under the old accreditation process. Both districts struggled in the student achievement categories, missing almost half of the points in English and mathematics (nine out of 16 points).
Independence also struggled in subgroup achievement, earning no points for social studies and only two out of four points in English and math. Attendance and graduation rates were also a problem, earning only six out of 10 and 22.5 out of 30 respectively. The district did receive a perfect score in the science subcategory of academic and subgroup achievement and one of the college and career readiness sub-categories.
Independence Superintendent Dale Herl said although he realizes that the district can “definitely do better” in several areas, it is important to not compare this year’s results to those in previous years.
“This is a completely different way of scoring school districts. How we were judged in the past is not how we will be judged in the future,” he said. “We are not where we need to be, and we are already taking steps to fix those problems.”
Herl said Independence has started narrowing its focus to concentrate on four key areas - literacy, mathematics computation and problem-solving, college and career readiness and attendance.
“Moving forward, I am confident we have the staff and the administration in place to do well,” he said. “The number of kids taking the ACT and SAT went up as well as those taking the AP exams. We want to continue to focus on students being college and career ready when the leave us.”
Fort Osage had significant problems in two other areas - subgroup achievement and college and career readiness. The district earned no points in social studies and no points in the college and career readiness category that tracks those students who enter post-secondary education/training or career education programs. On a positive note, Fort Osage received a prefect score for graduation rate and the science subcategory of academic and subgroup achievement.
“While there are some bright spots, we are disappointed overall in this year’s results,” said Maria Fleming, assistant superintendent for education services in the Fort Osage School District. “We did see several cohort groups improve from last year, but in both math and English Language Arts we had several grade levels that declined some from the previous year. Our science scores continue to be very strong, and we are evaluating all the information closely to determine how we can best improve.”
Fleming said because of the district’s issues with MAP this year, the APR score was lower than expected. Students in the elementary schools tended to score well. The trouble, she said, comes at the upper grades where students are struggling in core areas.
Fleming said the district’s other major challenge was the post-secondary follow up.
“The state expects 80 percent or more of graduates to be in college, the military or a career for which they trained within six months of graduation,” she said. “This is a standard we are still working to meet, and we have plans in place that we believe will help us to make significant progress.”
Grain Valley showed perfect scores in several categories, including graduation rate and some subcategories of the student achievement, subgroup achievement and college and career readiness area. The areas where the most points were lost were student attendance, 7.5 out of 10 and two of the college and career readiness areas. One deals with how graduates perform on the ACT, SAT, COMPASS and ASVAB exams, (7.5 out of 10 points), while the second tracks students post-secondary (six out of 10 points). Points were also lost in English and mathematics.
“Our schools each scored well for different reasons, some for reaching the 2020 achievement targets and others for growth,” Welle said. “When the numbers are combined for the district score, we did not earn all points possible for enough categories to score in the mid-nineties or better. It is disappointing that the new system does not better reward a district for its high-performing schools.”
As for Kansas City’s success on this year’s MAP and APR, Herl said he is happy to see that the district is starting to meet the needs of its students. Independence, along with several other school districts has been embroiled in legal disputes concerning a Missouri law that says students from unaccredited school districts can transfer to an accredited, adjoining school district. Herl said with these new results, that issue should be laid to rest.
“It looks like they are improving, which is good for everybody,” he said. “Especially the kids.”
For more specific information on school districts APR or MAP scores, visit DESE’s web-based Missouri Comprehensive Data System at mcds.dese.mo.gov. From there, select “District Info” and then choose a school district.