For the second consecutive year, Sedalia School District 200 received all 14 possible points in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Annual Performance Report.
Other area districts held their scores from 2011 or made slight improvements, except for Pettis County R-V, which saw a four-point drop from 14 to 10.
According to a DESE news release: “Missouri Assessment Program test scores and other performance measures are used to develop each school district’s APR. The APR provides an update on how districts are meeting state standards in 14 areas, which are the foundation for Missouri’s accreditation requirements for public schools. In addition to the test scores, attendance, graduation rates, ACT test scores and other indicators are used to determine each district’s APR.”
Last year was the first time since the 2004-05 school year that the Sedalia district got all 14 points. At the time, Superintendent Harriet Wolfe said, “Now we have to sustain that.”
To maintain that score, Wolfe said district educators and admininstrators “were persistent, and kept drilling down deeper and deeper into individual students. What does this individual student know? What does this individual student not know? What do we need to do to intervene with this student to get them to move forward and show growth?”
Two key programs the district instituted were getting principals into classrooms more frequently and providing focused intervention groups to help students build up areas of academic weakness.
Wolfe required principals to provide 30 three- to five-minute “snapshot” reports every two weeks on what was happening in classrooms.
She said, “The administrative presence in the classroom makes (principals) much more knowledgable about what is going on on a daily basis and much more able to have professional conversations about academic achievement.”
Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Carla Wheeler said diagnostic assessments were used to pinpoint students’ academic weaknesses or strengths; they then were placed in like groups. So, for example, if 10 students at a grade level at a school had punctuation issues, they would get remediation together.
Assistant Superintendent Nancy Scott said all students received intervention time, but those scoring at or above grade level got enrichment rather than remediation, “so everyone was having it at the same time so no one missed class time.”
Because of assessments and intervention groups, “Those teachers could tell you every single kid and where their gap was and what we were doing specifically to address it,” Wolfe said.
Wheeler praised educators and students for helping the district reach its goals.
“Teachers, honestly, are working harder than they have ever worked,” she said. “Kids are working hard, they are getting more information about themselves, about where they are and where they need to go.”
In the Pettis County R-V district, this year’s results were unexpected. Superintendent Sharee Norfleet said while students in grades 3 through 5 met required scoring levels, they did not show the necessary amount of progress from the previous year.
“We flatlined in that grade span, and that took us out of the ballgame this year,” Norfleet said.
Kim Evans, Northwest Elementary School principal, and Norfleet examined the scores and found that the third graders’ performance raised questions.
“What is it that our third graders are lacking that we can move them up in?” Evans asked. “Because this came a little bit of a surprise to us.”
But Norfleet refused to single out a specific group of students.
“The third grade scores brought us down, but this is not a grade level problem, it’s a K-3 problem and it’s a district problem,” she said. “This is disappointing for us, but we don’t want to cast this as being discouraged or casting blame. We want to move forward.”
To do that, elementary teachers will focus more intently on individual students’ needs and address them with remediation.
The district also came up short in its subgroup score, which reflects performance by students eligible for free and reduced-price meals at all grade levels. Travis Moore, Northwest High School principal, said in his building teachers will have shared planning time so they can discuss student achievement and address needs. And this year, a 25-minute seminar block will be added in the middle of the day where students who need remediation will be directed to specific teachers; others who are meeting the standards will get opportunities for academic enrichment.
“We recognize where we need to go and the direction we need to head,” Norfleet said.
HOW THEY SCORED
District 2011 2012
Cole Camp R-I 14 14
Green Ridge R-VIII 14 14
Knob Noster R-VIII 14 14
La Monte R-IV 12 13
Lincoln R-II 12 14
Otterville R-VI 13 14
Pettis County R-V 14 10
Pettis County R-XII* 7 5
Sedalia 200 14 14
Smithton R-VI 14 14
Sweet Springs R-VII 14 14
Warsaw R-IX 10 12
Windsor C-1 14 14
* Pettis County R-XII is grades K-8; only 7 points are possible for such districts.
Source: Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education