The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently released the 2022 Annual Performance Report (APR) scores for school districts across the state.
Unfortunately, the results are not surprising…
Missouri’s student test scores are still dismal, with 43 percent of students reading at grade level and less than 40 percent of students doing math at grade level.
What is new is that based on these scores, 112 Missouri school districts should be reclassified as provisionally accredited, which is a dramatic increase from the six districts that had APR scores that low in 2018, the last time the state reported APR scores.
The one area where there is an improvement is how APR scores are now calculated, providing some refreshing clarity when compared to past reports.
Missouri’s school accreditation system is largely based on something called the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) and the complex formulas it uses to generate APR scores.
DESE changes the criteria for MSIP and how schools are evaluated changes periodically. In 2018 schools were evaluated under MSIP 5; this year, they are being evaluated under the newest version of MSIP, MSIP 6.
While there are many differences between the two versions of MSIP, the key change is a greater focus on student academic achievement and growth (how quickly a student is learning and advancing), which has resulted in a much more honest portrayal of our schools’ successes and failures.
For the first time in decades, Missouri families now have a clearer idea of how well our schools are doing and it is not a pretty picture.
We still have far too many schools that are not living up to their most essential mission…educating Missouri’s children.
Twenty percent of the state’s school districts only earned enough APR points to qualify for provisional accreditation.
And while the increased emphasis on measuring student growth is a move in the right direction, DESE’s focus on grading school districts over school buildings means that there are many poorly performing schools still hidden in districts that scored high enough to qualify for full accreditation.
It has never been clearer that Missouri families want and deserve to be able to choose which school their children attend.
This most recent data on school performance simply underlines the need for broadening parental choice policies like open enrollment, MOCAP (the state’s virtual program), and the MOScholars program, which provides more than $6,000 per qualifying student for tuition and education-related expenses.
Although DESE deserves credit for focusing accreditation more on student growth and achievement than on metrics like attendance and graduation, parents still need better and easier-to-understand data about individual school buildings.
That is why CEAM has long supported the idea of using an “A-F” report card style system of providing families with accountability information about individual school buildings.
MSIP 6 does also not go far enough in the weight it applies to student growth, which results in skewed APR scores for some urban and rural districts.
Our state should follow others in creating an accountability system that provides families with easy-to-understand assessments of all available schools in their area so that each family can choose the school that best fits their child’s individual needs.
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