Citing a drop-off in academic performance, Missouri education officials on Tuesday lowered the Hickman Mills School District to provisional accreditation.
The designation makes the south Kansas City district with about 6,300 students only the second in the metro area to lack full accreditation. The long-struggling Kansas City district lost its accreditation in January after a decade of provisional status.
“We’re disappointed,” said Hickman Mills spokesman John Baccala. “Our test scores are up from five years ago, but we took a dip. Obviously something happened to stop our improvement.”
He has an idea of what part of that might have been. Baccala said an influx of students poured into Hickman Mills schools after the neighboring Kansas City district lost its accreditation.
“Maybe as many as 250,” Baccala said. “We were accepting kids as late as a week before MAP testing. We had to test them.”
Hickman Mills officials cited the newcomers when making an argument to state officials Monday that the district should keep full accreditation. But the State Board of Education approved the recommendation of provisional accreditation from Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The state’s Annual Progress Report released in August showed Hickman Mills had received seven out of a possible 14 APR points in 2011-12, down from nine in 2010-11.
During Monday’s meeting, Nicastro said that while she’s confident the district can reverse its slide, it is going to take time to regain full accreditation.
“We know this is difficult and we want to be supportive,” Nicastro told Hickman Mills officials, according to a district statement. “This is not the time to point fingers; it’s a time to link arms.
“We want our children held to higher standards. We’re confident that can happen (at Hickman Mills).”
Baccala said the district planned to do a better job of monitoring student progress in 10-, 20- and 30-day increments.
“We think we’re on the right track, and she (Nicastro) thinks so, too.”