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After a decade-long wait, Kansas City Public Schools' quest for full accreditation could be over soon

Closeup image showing a silver and gray sign on a brick building that reads: "Kansas City Public Schools."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Public Schools lost full accreditation in 2011.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommended Kansas City Public Schools receive full accreditation after it posted gains in English language arts and math.

Kansas City Public Schools’ decade-long wait for full accreditation may soon be over.

The Missouri State School Board of Education will consider full accreditation for the district on Tuesday at its monthly board meeting. The vote follows a recommendation from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The move would mark a significant milestone for the school district since it lost full accreditation in 2011. The district regained provisional accreditation in 2014.

“KCPS is very aware that we are on the State Board of Education agenda next week for full accreditation. We are eager for the State Board’s conversation during their meeting and we very much look forward to sharing more news after their meeting. This is a promising time for KCPS,” district spokesperson Kelly Wachel said in a statement.

The state’s Annual Performance Report (APR) scores in 2020 and 2021 were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Missouri Assessment Program was canceled in 2020.

However, DESE’s recommendation noted that from 2017 to 2019 and in 2021, the district was on track or exceeding benchmarks in English language arts and math.

The department also noted KCPS’s improving graduation rates and the number students taking advanced content, like Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.

The “consistency of district leadership” was also mentioned in the recommendation. KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell was selected in 2016 and focused on bringing up test scores and academic achievement. In his first year, the district achieved the minimum score required by the state for full accreditation, but the DESE wanted to see sustained progress.

The recommendation follows nine KCPS elementary schools recently being recognized in a St. Louis University PRiME Center report for helping students improve in English language arts and math. The report emphasized the need to focus on student progress rather than achievement scores.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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