Reimagining Education

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Who Needs Help; K-12 Education in Missouri

By Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield, Ph.D.

There is a belief that minority children in our central cities are our core education problem. This ignores the basic data on how children are performing in Missouri. While it is critical to focus on minority children in central cities, Missouri’s education policies have to focus on all our children. Let’s look at the data. (I’m defining a poor performing student as one who tests basic or below basic on MAP tests for 3-8, 10 and 11. A metro student is one who goes to school in St. Louis or Kansas City including charters. The data source was DESE using detailed District data. )

What most people “know” is:
Fact: More minority students test basic or below than white students.
(Table 2)
The numbers are 78% for black versus 47.6% for whites.

Fact: More metro students test basic or below than non-metro students.
(Table 2)
The numbers are 79.9% versus 51%.

Fact: Most minority students test basic or below.
(Table 2)
78% of black students test at basic or below.
Some new facts that may surprise you are:

Fact: Most minority students do not go to school in the metro areas.
(Table 1)
Only 30% of black students go to school in St. Louis or Kansas City.

Fact: Most poor performing minority students do not live in Metro areas.
(Table 3)
67% of black students testing basic or below go to school outside Kansas City and St. Louis City.

Fact: A small percentage of poor performers live in metro areas.
Only 10% of all students testing basic or below go to school in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Fact: Most poor performing students don’t live in metro areas and are white. (Table 4)
Almost 70% of children testing basic or below and living outside St. Louis and Kansas City are white.

What does this data mean? That solving the minority, metro problem will only affect less than 6% of students in Missouri. Solving the education problem will require an expanded focus on all schools from the bad to the great. Many minority children do poorly outside the metro areas. Almost half of white students need help.

I propose one change. Currently we only allow charter schools in Kansas City and St. Louis, because that is where most people think the problems are. Missouri is the only state with charters that is not statewide. Charters were approved in Missouri to help our poor performing students. (A reminder: Charter schools are public schools. They just aren’t strangled by bureaucratic regulations. In other states it’s common for a high school and its feeder schools to go charter to bring back true local control.) Since the problem area cannot be limited to St. Louis and Kansas City, and if charters are helpful, then we need charters for all of Missouri.

Table 1. For Students by Race % Metro and Non Metro
% Metro % Not Metro

Black 30.5 69.5
Hispanic 30.8 69.2
White 1.1 98.9

Total 7.2 92.8

Table 2
% of Students Testing Basic or Below by Race and Metro/Non Metro/Total
Metro Not Metro Total
Black 83.4 75.6 78
Hispanic 77.7 64.4 68.5
White 63.5 47.4 47.6

Total 79.9 51.4 53.4

Table 3
For Students Testing Basic or Below: % Metro and Non-Metro by Race
% Metro % Not Metro Total
Black 32.6 67.4 100.0
Hispanic 34.9 65.1 100.0
White 1.5 98.5 100.0

Total 10.7 89.3 100.0

Table 4 % by Race, Metro and Non-Metro for those Testing Basic or Below and Total
Basic or Below Total
Black Metro 8.56 5.48
Black Non Metro 12.49 17.67
Hispanic Metro .97 .67
Hispanic Non Metro 1.50 1.82
White Metro .89 1.07
White Non Metro 69.32 78.06
Other Metro .13 .11
Other Non Metro .49 .79

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