In two years, Kansas City Public Schools have done what few people thought possible. The district has risen from being unaccredited to provisional accreditation. But Superintendent Steve Green knows more progress is needed to make all the district’s schools the first and best choice for parents.
In his annual state of the schools address Tuesday at Paseo Academy, Green outlined how the district will continue the upward trajectory and achieve full accreditation in 2015. It was more than just a convincing PowerPoint and platitudes that got the audience of about 200 people to stand and cheer with Green: “Once in demise, now on the rise.”
Green, who has brought stability to the troubled district, has a plan. It includes improving students’ academic scores. That’s no easy feat; 70 percent of the district’s students are scoring below proficiency in key academic areas. Test scores in the coming year will have to go up dramatically. Green is right to promise that no students will be left out.
To achieve that, district officials plan to work more closely with principals and teachers to ensure student progress. In addition, students will be pushed in what Green called the Five Cs — collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, communication and caring. It’s needed to stretch the district’s 15,000 students beyond being just good test-takers.
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Other parts of Green’s plan include maintaining good finances, increasing parent involvement, increasing volunteers in schools, connecting more students with advanced placement courses, having more preschool and extended-day learning, offering anti-bullying and trauma-sensitive instruction for educators, and actively recruiting students and high quality teachers.
“You’ve got to be a special talent to work in Kansas City Public Schools,” Green said.
A long overdue initiative is directed at improving academics for males of color. More resources will go into closing the achievement gap and reversing trends of high suspension, expulsion and dropout rates.
The city is pinning high hopes on Green and Kansas City Public Schools to achieve accreditation. For the sake of the children, there is no greater goal.