The Independence School District showed a significant improvement in its Missouri Annual Performance Report scores from 2016, while other school districts in Eastern Jackson County maintained solid scores in 2017 with either an improvement, repeat or a slight dip from the previous year.

This is the fifth year the state has employed this measurement system of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5) for the MAP Report, which includes five major standards: academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness (or high school readiness for elementary schools), attendance rates and graduation rates.

Independence Schools improved from 89.6 percent in 2016 to 95 percent this year – 133 out of a possible 140 points. In 2015, ISD rated at 89.3 percent, just two years after it was at 73.2 percent.

For the second-straight year, Blue Springs School District checked in at 99.6 percent – a half-point short of 140 – after scoring 100 percent in 2015 and 98.6 the year before that.

Fort Osage slipped from 92.1 percent last year to 89.6 this year after three straight years of improvement. Grain Valley improved from 91.4 percent to 94.6; its 93.2 mark in 2015 represented a near-10 percent jump from two years earlier. Lee's Summit continued to climb for the third year in a row, checking in at 98.2 percent. In 2014 it had slipped from 96.1 to 92.5. Oak Grove rose back to 97.9 percent after a slight dip from 97.1 in 2015 to 96.4 last year.

The Independence district said its scores represented the highest increase among the state's large districts in the last four years. Superintendent Dale Herl said he was thrilled with the results.

“We knew we were going to be close, between 93 and 95 percent, based on how our students did on the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) and EOC (end-of-course assessment),” Herl said. “The biggest questions were attendance and college readiness.

“What I'm probably most proud of is we've improved every one of the last five years. That speaks not just to our students and teachers, but the manner in which we approach student achievement. It was really across the board (with improvements). With every student now having at least the opportunity to attain an associate's degree, they've taken a lot of dual-credit courses.”

Blue Springs Superintendent Jim Finley said that while the high marks are welcomed, the district constantly looks for ways to improve.

“The bottom line is we always want to do the best we can for and by our students,” Finley said. “We want to continue to improve our instruction and our resources for our teaching staff. The goal is always to get better, and you're never done with that.”

Fort Osage Superintendent Jason Snodgrass said that despite the district's slight drop there are still several reasons to celebrate, including a graduation rate that attained the full score and is among the state's best.

“That shows the rapport and relationships in our district,” he said. “We've had continued growth in college and career readiness, and that's a lot of hard work by all our teachers in the district.

“Attendance continues to be an area of focus for us, and we will continue to work toward improvement in the areas where we need to see growth.”

Grain Valley Marc Snow said he was definitely happy with the results and noted the “moving target” given several slight changes in how the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education compiled its ratings. More than anything, the results affirm the district is moving in the right direction.

“We're trying to do what's best for the kids and have a sound educational product for the kids,” he said, “and those tend to lead to high scores.

“There's always some things to work on. This year we targeted math, for example, there's still some improvement we can have there.”

School districts that rated at 70-100 percent are considered accredited, those rated 50-69 are provisionally accredited and those 49 and below are unaccredited.

The Kansas City School District fell from 70 percent last year to 63.9 percent this year, matching its 2015 score. In other districts, Raytown checked in at 81.4 percent (79.6 last year), North Kansas City 93.9 (96.4 last year), Liberty 97.5 (98.2), Hickman Mills 65.4 (67.9) and Park Hill 97.5 (97.9).

Out of 550 school districts and charter public schools, 37 scored a perfect 100 percent, up six from last year. Three charter schools fell into the unaccredited rating, and for the second-straight year no public school districts fell into that category. Also for the second-straight year, seven public districts out of 517 statewide were rated as provisionally accredited, along with 12 charter schools.