Full accreditation in 2015 was a great goal for Kansas City Public Schools, but right now it looks at least a couple of years away. That’s if everything goes as planned. It didn’t this year.
The school district actually lost ground on its annual state performance report. Last year, Kansas City Public Schools earned 66.1 percent of the points required to receive full accreditation. This year that edged down to 63.9 percent.
Al Tunis, interim superintendent for the Kansas City district, pointed to a score of zero in science for being responsible for the slippage. The district in the last school year put a lot of emphasis on English language arts and math. Teachers were using the same curriculum and were backed up with coaching.
The state performance report shows that just as much attention needs to focus on science. Last year only about 30 percent of Kansas City students were proficient or advanced in math, reading and writing. This year that’s inched up to 34 percent. The state performance report gives the district a good measure of where it needs to improve.
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“We know we have a long way to go,” Tunis said. “We know that teaching and learning have to continue.”
The Kansas district remains provisionally accredited. A score of 70 percent to 100 percent is needed for full accreditation.
Most of the school districts in the Kansas City area saw their scores increase despite changes in the tests. Among the seven whose scores dropped, the Hickman Mills School District’s was the steepest, falling from 70.7 percent to 59.3 percent. Superintendent Dennis Carpenter notes that the online testing was a concern. “To expect students from economically disadvantaged school districts to assimilate to a technology based assessment platform with the same speed as their non-disadvantaged peers is asinine,” he said in a prepared statement.
Like the Kansas City district, Hickman Mills will remain provisionally accredited.
The other school districts in the Kansas City area will maintain their full accreditation. Margie Vandeven, Missouri commissioner of education, said in a conference call that multiple measures and multiple years of data went into ensuring fairness and providing an accurate assessment of each district. She said that 98.5 percent of districts in the state are fully accredited.
The state seeks improvement from the districts and charter schools. The goal to boost graduation rates and ensure students are college and career ready.