The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier this month about a new rating system put into place by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that may lead to fewer perfect scores for area school districts.
The Missouri School Improvement Plan (MISP) was adopted in 1990 to assess the progress of schools in meeting performance standings with increasing standards of achievement. The old rating system was a 14-point system that considered things such as attendance, graduation rates and if the district offered Advanced Placement courses.
With the old system, the Post reported, more than 80 percent of districts met at least 13 out of the 14 standards. The Wentzville School district has achieved perfect scores for the last seven years.
The newest system (MISP 5) will probably be put into place in 2015 so that the state has three years of new data with which to generate results.
For informational purposes, DESE used three years of old date to generate scores, and many area districts that have posted perfect scores in the past have not fared so well. Among those districts are Mehlville, Parkway, Rockwood—and Wentzville.
Wentzville scored 89.3 percent. The district, however, does not believe that score to be an accurate measure.
"The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has made it very clear that the MSIP 5 APR report is still a working draft, and we in the Wentzville School District don't feel that the report accurately reflects the progress and accomplishments of our students and our district," Superintendent Terry Adams said.
"For example, in the spring of 2010 the WSD made the decision to move American Government from a semester course for sophomores to a full year course for juniors, because that's what's best for our students. As a result, in the spring of 2012 the only students who took the Government End of Course Exams (EOC) were students who had previously been delayed because they had failed the course, so doing what was right for our kids hurt our assessment score," Adams said.
"If our students had performed as well on the Government EOC as they did on the other three, the WSD would have earned an additional five points for a score of 94.3. We feel that the MSIP 5 APR is still a work in progress, but we applaud that the focus is on continuous growth and improvement for all students. The primary goal of MSIP 5 and the WSD is to prepare kids to be college and career ready, and to be successful in school and life."
Some of the ways that scoring will change include:
- calculating attendance rates. Instead of the percentage of students in school daily, the MISP 5 will look at the percentage of students who are in school 90 percent of the time.
- instead of just looking at whether the district offers Advanced Placement courses, the MISP 5 will look at the percentage of students passing AP tests.
- a requirement for physical activity.
- lowering the "desirable" number of students in classrooms.
Once the MISP 5 is in full use, a district must earn 90 percent or more of the 150 possible points to earn the honor of "accredited with distinction."