Blue Springs superintendent Paul Kinder provided insight to the state of the school district Thursday afternoon at the Blue Springs Chamber Luncheon, emphasizing the changing role of the American education system.

Kinder pushed back against the perception that this system falters in comparison to the education of other countries, as well as the refrain that educational quality has declined. According to Kinder, these kinds of arguments emerge because American students continue to be tested throughout their educational careers, with 100 percent continuing to take state testing in 11th grade. Meanwhile, Kinder argues, other nations stop testing the majority of their students after eighth grade.

Similarly, Kinder attributed lowering ACT scores – with 23 marking the average composite score in 1965, as compared to today’s 21 – to an increasing number of testers and heightened standards. He stated that in 1965, much of the ACT test matched fifth grade curriculum.

Kinder said that navigating these shifting demands becomes more difficult when educators must also consider modern challenges, like drug and technology use, increased economic strain – with 35 percent of students in the district receiving free and reduced lunch – slashed funding and mental health concerns. At the same time, he said that school districts have had to add more departments and programming, providing education on internet safety, bullying, suicide awareness, media literacy, intruder lockdowns and more.

“Vaping and social media are huge burdens,” Kinder said.

Nevertheless, the superintendent drew attention to the district’s above average test scores. On 2017 state test scores, Blue Springs scored in the 69th percentile, as compared to the 47th percentile state average. In science, these numbers were 71.9 and 52.7, respectively.