Traditionally ranked among the top Missouri districts in the state’s annual performance report, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District slipped a few percentage points this year but remains on track to retain the state’s highest level of accreditation.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s latest performance report, or APR, was released Aug. 29. The report combines MAP scores with five performance standards: academic achievement, attendance, college and career readiness, graduation rate and subgroup achievement.
Although slightly down from last year, the R-7 district remained one of the area’s highest achieving districts, tallying 129.5 points out of a possible 140, or 92.5 percent.
The district scored 134.5 points out of 140 (96.1 percent) in 2013, a difference of 3.6 percentage points.
While the overall numbers were down in 2014, R-7 Superintendent David McGehee said district officials are in the early stages of dissecting the report.
“It’s just a number,” McGehee said. “From my perspective and from the public’s perspective, we want that number to be as high as it can be. If you are asking me what does that mean with regard to our performance as a district, I would say I’m not sure. We’re evaluating all of the details behind the number.”
McGehee added there are questions in a majority of districts across the state in regard to assessment tests from 2014.
“As a majority they’re down, but we’re moving past that to say in our (district) are there flaws, are there things we can do better?” he said. “We’re just trying to uncover the data at this point and begin to formulate where do we go from here.”
The annual reports are used to review and accredit Missouri’s school districts under the revised Missouri School Improvement Program implemented last year. The program is designed to show how well each public school district is meeting the state’s education standards.
Four accreditation levels are possible:
• Accredited with distinction, for school districts scoring 90 percent and above plus additional criteria set by the state board.
• Accredited, for districts scoring at least 70 percent.
• Provisionally accredited, for districts scoring between 50 percent to 69.9 percent.
• Unaccredited, for districts scoring below 50 percent.
State education officials said a three-year period is needed to show long-term, sustained performance trends for districts so classification or reclassification of school districts is not anticipated until 2015.
The local district has earned Missouri’s Distinction in Performance Award, the state’s highest recognition for academic achievement, for the past 12 years.
“Some communities look at the APR and they say it’s a state of emergency if they drop below 70 (percent),” McGehee said. “To me, it’s a state of emergency if (the R-7 district) drops below 90. While we’re among the top performers in the state, we still see room for improvement.”
Highland Park Elementary School was the district’s only school to score 70 points out of a possible 70 in the standard elementary testing areas of English, math, science, and social studies. Attendance was also taken into consideration, accounting for 10 points of the equation.
Richardson Elementary School tallied the second highest score of the district’s 18 elementary schools, scoring 69 out of 70 points, or 98.6 percent.
Summit Lakes Middle School scored 68 points (97.1 percent), the highest of the district’s three middle schools, and Lee’s Summit West High School was tops among three high schools with a score of 139.5 points out of a possible 140, or 99.6 percent.
Lee’s Summit High School tallied 136 points (97.1 percent) and Lee’s Summit North High School earned 135.5 points (96.8 percent).
All three high schools scored 30 out of 30 in the graduation rate category.
Prairie View Elementary School scored the lowest among district schools, earning 41 points out of 70, a 58.6 percent mark. The next lowest performing school was Westview Elementary School with 55 points (78.6 percent).
McGehee said district officials have had internal discussions about the operation of Prairie View, a school he said has about to 1,000 students.
Of the 1,017 students enrolled at the school last year, 355, or 35.2 percent, were eligible for free or reduced lunch, a barometer that often correlates with scholastic achievement.
“The way that we run that school, the demographics of that school, test scores, we are looking at of all the variables there and questioning ourselves on how to get it better,” he said. “We acknowledge that some of our schools are performing lower than we would like for them to.”
All other district schools scored 82.9 percent or higher, a point taken into consideration by McGehee who said college entrance exams and classroom and district assessment also play a major role in student achievement.
“Our goal is basically to make sure that our students are successful in life,” McGehee said. “There is a lot of data that we look at to determine if our students are successful. We can’t be too focused on one particular measure.”