Missouri Says Two Kansas City School Districts May Still Reach Full Accreditation | KCUR

Missouri Says Two Kansas City School Districts May Still Reach Full Accreditation

Aug 11, 2015

The release of standardized test scores in Missouri this year are coming out slowly, so the Kansas City Public Schools and the Hickman Mills School District won't know for at least a few weeks whether they will gain full accreditation from the state.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released statewide test results Tuesday, but the district-by-district numbers won't be available for another week.

Kansas City and Hickman Mills are provisionally accredited and were hoping to have the state fully accredit them this year.

However, the state changed its standardized test and says it's impossible to compare last year's results to this year's scores. "You absolutely can not make a comparison so there is little context as to what can be provided for these one year results," says DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven.

The state demands several years of progress before moving a district from provisionally accredited to fully accredited.

DESE says it is open to full accreditation for both districts, they just don't know when.

"It's just very early to be having any specific discussions about those districts, or districts statewide, until we arrive at a method to compare the data," says Chris Neale who is assistant commissioner in DESE's Office of Quality Schools.

Kansas City Public Schools says it intends to press the state for accreditation after the district test results are released.

"That is the district's goal, that we will press for that. It will be first on our discussion points for our new interim superintendent," says Vickie Murillo, KCPS Chief Academic Officer.

Hickman Mills school district in south Kansas City is one of the districts eagerly awaiting accreditation news from the state.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR

Some standards have not changed, such as graduation rates and career and college readiness. However , Hickman Mills Superintendent Dennis Carpenter says he still doesn't know how DESE will figure academic progress into the equation.

"The academic piece is still up for discussion. So we're waiting for them to work with their technical review team with the folks at DESE and we'll see what comes out of there," he says.

DESE says overall it is very pleased with the statewide test results. The Missouri Assessment Test (MAP) was given to all students in grades 3-8. More than 50 percent of all students were proficient or advanced in English. Math scores were not quite as good. DESE says math scores ranged from a high of 52 percent proficient or advanced for 3rd graders statewide to a low of 28 percent for 8th graders.

"These new standards raise the expectations for learning in Missouri," says Commissioner Vandeven. "The results reflect the time our teachers put into preparing for this transition."

While expectations were raised for both English and math the standards stayed the same for science. The science exam was only given to 5th and 8th graders. Scores statewide for 5th graders dropped a percentage point from last year, from 48 percent proficient to 47 percent. Eighth grade scores dropped from 52.5 percent proficient to 48.9 percent.

District data will be released Aug. 17, according to DESE. Accreditation could come sometime in the weeks after the data is released. 

Testing doesn't ease any next year for Missouri school districts. This year's exams were aligned with Common Core standards. The Missouri General Assembly didn't like that and ordered that new tests be crafted for next year, the fourth change in as many years.