School district celebrates higher test scores

The Kansas City Public Schools tripled the district’s performance standard and it is just getting started, officials said today.

Superintendent Steve Green called the scores on the state’s rating system the start of “a renaissance for the Kansas City Public Schools.”

The 2013 score of 60 percent is far above the 19.6 percent it scored for the period from 2010 to 2012. It is also above the 50 percent needed for provisional accreditation and takes the district farther toward full accreditation than ever before.

The increase came because of year of careful planning and hard work after the disappointment of last year’s scores, Green said.

“We went into full court press mode,” he said. “Now we go into full court press two.”

Whether the district will get provisional accreditation is far from certain. The State School Board determines that and it has said that it will usually wait for three years of data before making such changes.

But Green said the scores improved some last year and dramatically this year.
“That suggests a trend of improvement, the kind of trend of improvement the state wants to see,” he said.

Getting the provisional status is critical because it would prevent the district from being subject to a new transfer law next spring – a law that Green said threatens its existence.

The transfer law allows families in unaccredited districts to enroll in accredited districts and the unaccredited district must pay for it.

The law is already being used in St. Louis, after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled it constitutional in a case there. A similar case involving Kansas City is still pending in court.

Green said the district will move forward to improve in areas of weakness, like reading skills, and press toward the goal of full accreditation and graduating all students, all with knowledge that makes them college ready.

The days of the district’s “roller coaster” of decades of struggling to get provisional accreditation, losing it and getting it back, are over, he said.

Strong measuring tools are in place, he said, guided by the top thing on the agenda, which is student achievement.

He also said the eyes and concerns of the city have been on the district in the last year, and he is right.

Mayor Sly James issued a statement today saying the test scores give “our community reasons to be both optimistic and reflective….Education touches every facet of this city.”

James added: “…cities are increasingly becoming the focal point of innovation and problem-solving. Therefore, it makes complete sense to explore a city-based approach to addressing our educational challenges.”

Last year, many spoke of the state taking over the district, but the new scores seem to deflect that.


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