Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) | KCUR

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Center School District / Facebook

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, family stuck in Peru

His wife and daughter have been in Lima, Peru, since January, and Brian Copeland felt like spending some vacation time hanging out with them there. He didn't expect he'd end up spending weeks on lockdown in a three-bedroom apartment with six other people.

  • Brian Copeland, Kansas City, Kansas, resident

Segment 2, beginning at 15:59: Kansas public schools, in the days of coronavirus

Center School District / Facebook

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, family stuck in Peru

His wife and daughter have been in Lima, Peru, since January, and Brian Copeland felt like spending some vacation time hanging out with them there. He didn't expect he'd end up spending weeks on lockdown in a three-bedroom apartment with six other people.

  • Brian Copeland, Kansas City, Kansas, resident

Segment 2, beginning at 15:59: Kansas public schools, in the days of coronavirus

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Earlier this year Kansas City voters rejected a plan to improve pre-K access and quality with public dollars, but that hasn't stopped a child care center at 59th Street and Swope Parkway from trying to get better on its own.

The Upper Room, an education equity non-profit, has run a licensed child care center for about 15 years but only recently began to pursue state accreditation as an early learning center.

Segment 1: Why it's so important that kids make it to class.

Between the years 2013 and 2016, Kansas City Public Schools staffers falsified attendance records, presumably to help the district regain full accreditation. Why is it so hard for kids to get to school in the first place, though? Also, what is really at stake for schools when they don't show up and what can we reasonably expect educators to do about it?

Updated Jan. 9 with information about teacher recruitment efforts

Missouri education officials have a handful of ideas on how to get more people interested in becoming public school teachers and then staying in the classroom for the long term.

It goes along with a nearly $400 million pitch to increase teacher pay detailed last month.

The six-point recruitment and retention plan reviewed and compiled by a teachers working group was presented to the State Board of Education during its monthly meeting Thursday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For the first time, Missouri is reporting how much is spent per child at every school in the state.

It’s a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that’s supposed to help ensure equitable access and opportunity for all children.

There are many reasons why per-pupil spending levels vary within a district, though.

File photo by Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

Kansas City Public Schools will not be fully accredited this year after the district’s latest performance report failed to meet the requirements. 

At the state school board’s monthly meeting Tuesday, officials at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recommended both KCPS and the Hickman Mills school district remain provisionally accredited.

File photo by Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

The Kansas City Public Schools district didn’t consistently check on chronically absent students, improperly used out of school suspension practices and didn’t effectively train employees on state attendance rules last year, according to a June 2019 internal attendance audit obtained by KCUR through a records request. 

“The widespread nature of data irregularities and questionable attendance practices demonstrates, at the very least, a lack of inconsistency in oversight by the District administration over attendance reporting,” the report found. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Seven Kansas City Public School district employees falsified student attendance records for three years from 2013 to 2016, according to a summary of an external investigation made public by the district.

The issue was most prominent in the 2015-2016 school year, boosting attendance data which resulted in additional state funding.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

A Kansas City charter school that closed in 2018 still owes millions of dollars to the state – and the Missouri Attorney General’s office has gotten involved.

Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology leaders resisted closure at every turn. They also never distributed any of the computers or education materials to other schools, according to the closure coordinator, and are possibly sitting on millions of dollars owed to the state after selling their building.

The Missouri State Board of Education took steps Tuesday toward putting more counselors and support staff in the state’s public schools.

Counselors in Missouri currently serve an average of 347 students, according to the American School Counselor Association. That’s under the state requirement of a ratio of one counselor per 400 students but significantly higher than its recommendation of a counselor serving 250 students each.

How the Missouri education department measures student comprehension and school performance is complicated. The manual for determining a school’s performance is dozens of pages long. 

Making it even more complex, students have taken four different sets of tests in six years. Just when the test saw stability, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education overhauled the way it presents school performance (in short, it got more colorful and less numerical).

We had the headlines for what to make of this year’s Annual Performance Reports and Missouri Assessment Program tests. But now that there’s been time to digest the data, here are takeaways:

Illustration by David Kovaluk / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s school report cards are out, and they don’t look anything like they did last year.

The redesigned Annual Performance Report (APR) does away with the percentile score that the state uses to make accreditation decisions and replaces it with color-coded bar graphs meant to give parents a more detailed look at how their school district or charter school is doing. 

But educators aren’t sure how accessible all that information really is.

Low pay is the top reason teachers leave the classroom, a new survey of Missouri public school educators found.

The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asked 6,000 teachers, principals and administrators what makes them keep teaching and what makes them quit. The results were shared at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.

Missouri education officials released long-awaited school report cards Friday, and the good news is most schools are meeting expectations.

In fact, 97 percent of public schools scored in the fully accredited range, including Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Riverview Gardens — all districts trying to regain accreditation.

At the same time, fewer than half of public school students in Missouri passed the new, more rigorous math and English tests they took last spring.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The long wait for accreditation may soon be over for Kansas City Public Schools.

KCPS scored solidly in the range for full accreditation for the second time in three years. The district received 99.5 points out of 120 possible – 82.9 percent – on its 2018 Annual Performance Report. APR is basically a report card for public schools in Missouri.

Male in short-sleeved blue shirt wearing headphones and seated in front of a microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1:  Former DESE commissioner says, "the decison to bring me back needed to be about doing what's best for the children in the state of Missouri."

Updated at 2:15 p.m. with comments from Vandeven — Margie Vandeven will return as Missouri’s top education official a year after her unpopular firing by then-Gov. Eric Greitens.

The State Board of Education announced its selection of Vandeven as state education commissioner Tuesday. She ran the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE, for three years before she was ousted.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

As Missouri school districts await state test scores they should have received months ago, some administrators said they're getting frustrated with the delay.

“I don’t have the data right now for math and reading to even make a determination as to whether the things we invested in last year are making a difference,” Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell said.

Funding for running school buses in Missouri could return to state funding goals within five years if the state education department’s request to the legislature is fulfilled.

Missouri education officials outlined a $6.3 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year to the state Board of Education Tuesday, which asks state lawmakers for more transportation aid and per-student funding as part of a $140 million increase in its budget.

Google

Segment 1: A shuttered charter school in Kansas City leaves some families in the lurch.

National Assessment of Educational Progress

Missouri students scored about as well as Illinois students but trailed their peers in Kansas on a national math and reading assessment, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Tuesday.

Scores on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress – known colloquially as NAEP and sometimes referred to as the nation’s report card – remained steady, with Missouri fourth and eighth graders doing about as well as they did in 2015.

Teeman
Courtesy of Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

On Thursday, Raytown resident Eric Teeman was best known as a former alderman best known for trying to get Walmart declared a public nuisance.

A day later, Teeman found himself on the Missouri Board of Education, casting the deciding vote that ousted state education commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Missouri’s education commissioner could soon be out of the job after a State Board of Education member resigned — and a judge refused to reinstall a Joplin pastor to his slot.

Claudia Oñate Greim resigned from the state board on Thursday night, less than a day before members are slated to meet. Greim was the only person who Gov. Eric Greitens appointed who voted earlier this month against firing Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the latest data on the state's public schools, so we ask Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell to explain where his district did well and what areas still need improvement. Then, this summer, Kansas City, Missouri, got a new chief of police, a 29-year veteran of the force.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

In an election that was all about trust, it's clear the St. Joseph School District does not have it with voters.

A proposed 38 percent property tax hike, which the district says it needs to stop eating into its reserve funds went down big--72 percent voted no, 28 percent voted yes.

The proposal would have raised an additional $11.5 million a year and cost the owner of an $80,000 house an extra $220 a year.

The levy increase was backed by some of the biggest businesses in St. Joseph, the local NEA chapter and the Chamber of Commerce.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

St. Joseph residents will decide Nov. 7 whether to raise their property taxes by 38 percent to provide more money for schools.

But you’re mistaken if you think the election is really about that. It’s more like a referendum on the school district’s past transgressions, which are almost legendary in the world of Missouri public education.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A former superintendent and school board president for the St. Joseph School District is out of prison and in an area halfway house.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens made a rare stop in Kansas City Wednesday to sign four bills into law.

One measure would start the process of creating four adult high schools around the state to help Missourians over the age of 21 get a high school diploma and job training.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A major data breach is being investigated in the Independence School District.

The school district employees were alerted to the scam in an email sent last Thursday.

In it, the business office says “the names, social security numbers, addresses and earnings” of every employee was stolen in a phishing scam, where the crooks use fake emails or websites to steal personal information.

The information was used to file fraudulent income tax returns, according to the email.

A fraud investigation is underway by the FBI and the Independence Police Department.

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