KANSAS CITY, Mo.– According to a statewide release, Kansas City Public Schools has a lot to celebrate. The school system earned 98 points on its 2016 Annual Progress Report (APR), according to data released by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
By garnering at least 70 percent of the 140 points possible, this is the first time that KCPS has earned the points necessary for full accreditation under the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). In other words, this is the first time in about 30 years KCPS has earned the points to become a fully accredited school system.
This year’s APR is the latest in a remarkable comeback for KCPS. The school system’s APR results have improved by more than 75 points in just four years, and the results increased 8.5 points over 2015 totals.
KCPS is hopeful that the state will look favorably on these results and will award accreditation this year. But if the state requires another year of demonstrated growth, KCPS is prepared to build on its 2016 success.
“We remain on the right track,” Superintendent Mark Bedell said. “This type of revival by a public school system is very rare. Credit goes to our students, teachers, parents, support staff and leadership team, who have worked hard together to make these gains with integrity.”
KCPS students have demonstrated significant, widespread and sustained improvement in a wide range of MSIP standards. Some highlights of their achievement include:
- Twenty-seven schools achieved the points necessary for provisional or full accreditation, including all seven of our high schools; twelve schools met the mark for full accreditation by earning at least 70 percent of the possible points; two schools moved from provisional to full accreditation, including Gladstone (which increased 25 percentage points compared to 2015) and Garfield (which has increased 37.2 percentage points since 2014) Elementary schools; five schools moved from unaccredited to provisional accreditation.*
- More students are taking the ACT exam and their results are improving. The exam participation rate was 89.2 percent among high school juniors this year, up 5.1 percentage points compared to 2015.
- Students are at school and ready to learn. KCPS earned 100 percent of the points possible for attendance under MSIP5.
- Students are prepared to succeed when they graduate from high school. KCPS garnered 26 out of 30 points possible under MSIP5’s College and Career Readiness standards.
- Over the last three years, our schools have shown that they are on track to reach state academic goals in several MSIP5 standards for the year 2020 in social studies, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rates. DESE refers to this standard of growth as, “achieving status.”
KCPS Board of Directors Chair Melissa Robinson praised students, staff, leadership and partners for their significant achievement. Robinson pointed out that the gains were earned over time even with a constantly shifting educational landscape in Missouri.
“The state’s academic achievement standards are widely considered among the most rigorous in the nation,” Ms. Robinson said. “The state’s performance standards have changed over the last several years, but KCPS has maintained a steadfast focus on making sure our students receive an education that prepares them to meet, and exceed, the state’s highest expectations. Our students and community expect nothing less from us.”
Accreditation is a status given by a vote of the state Board of Education with input from DESE officials. It is expected that the state Board will require KCPS to earn equal or better results for at least one more year before granting that status to the school system.
“We have earned enough points for accreditation, now we just await a status change,” Bedell said. “The school system’s 2016 APR results mean that KCPS is on the starting line for even greater gains. We have been transparent about our opportunities for improvement. That will continue to be the case as we strive to build the high quality school system our students deserve. We will be honest about where we need to make gains and we will be solution-focused. We will not be satisfied until there is equity and opportunity for every child in every school across KCPS.”
Dr. Bedell and his leadership team have engineered a comprehensive academic plan focused on improving science achievement and graduation rates. Some highlights of this plan include:
- Adding specialists who will focus on improving science achievement in elementary and secondary schools
- Conducting in-depth evaluations at every school in order to identify their specific opportunities for improvement and develop the right solutions for each building
- Providing the professional development support needed to ensure that all kindergarten through second-grade teachers will have reading certifications by 2022
- Helping all intermediate-level teachers gain specializations in academic content areas
- Piloting year-round schools and expanding the program as results dictate
- Expanding co-curricular activities in an equitable manner so that students have more opportunities to reinforce their education outside of classrooms
- Training teachers to improve cultural responsiveness and classroom management
- Developing interdisciplinary teams of teachers for the middle schools
- Reducing elementary school class sizes
- Increasing the number of pre-K seats available at no charge to families as resources allow
- Developing proposals for new schools and programs, such as a possible third middle school south of Brush Creek
- Improving and expanding an innovative program to develop trauma-sensitive schools and address the social and emotional needs of our students
- Nurturing a mentorship program so that every student can access long-term, committed guidance from at least one responsible adult who is not a member of his or her family
- Exploring community and business partnerships in order to bridge the digital divide
- Expanding the use, effectiveness and efficiency of classroom technology in order to promote flexible, cutting-edge and student-centered classroom experiences
- Adjusting improvement plans to develop equitable facilities across KCPS
*Schools that are fewer than three years old are not included in these results, according to DESE. That includes Hale Cook Elementary School, Northeast Middle School and Central Middle School.