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School districts face own report cards from state - KOAM TV 7

School districts face own report cards from state

Posted: Updated: Nov 1, 2013 12:30 PM



School districts are being asked to measure up to new standards and while they're graded on 
things like attendance and college career readiness,  academic achievement is scored by tests. And coming soon those will be based on the common core standards.

How school districts make the grade is a kind of an  alphabet soup of letters and numbers. 
The Missouri  School Improvement Program or MSIP is the yardstick of measuring school district's performance.  MSIP is in its 5th cycle and accreditation will be determined in 2015.  But what districts do now does count despite what some school leaders seem to express. 


Every year math teacher Brian Neugebauer gets 180 new kids and has to figure out how to help each improve his or her scores on state assessments known as the
MAP, or Missouri Assessment Program.  He says, "As a teacher you feel like that's what  you're judged by sometimes but its  also not what you want to live by."


The district  is also graded on how students score on tests.  Its report card is  the new MSIP 5 rubric. The Missouri school improvement program now weighs  attendance,e graduation rate and college career readiness along with academic achievement. Test scores are mixed with points given if districts show improvement. 

In  2013 Joplin's academic achievement score was 39 of 56 possible points. Surrounding districts scored lower 50's except Carthage at 45. 

Joplin assistant superintendent Angie Besendorfer says, "I  disagree with the fact that that is a valid way to look at it,  cause its not.  Its not um, its not considering  lots of different components."

 The superintendent, CJ Huff says of  the new state system,  "A frustration seems to be the target continually seems to move around  in terms of what they expect us to hit."

Because MSIP 5 credits districts with points for improvement, underachieving districts can appear to have made great gains.

Besendorfer says, "Our score was high in graduation rate even though we  know graduation isn't where we want it in Joplin, so that is one way that  exemplifies under MSIP 5.  The system is very volatile and it may not reflect the actual data.  It just reflects  how that data played in a formula. 
Trey Moeller, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in Webb City says, "I think that if all an individual  looks at is the final score on the rubric some false assumptions could be made."  But Moeller believes its important for a district to consider the scores on the rubric as important since they will later be used to create an average score for accreditation. 

Besendorfer , and  Moeller say they  look at index scores for individual grade levels to track student  progress. But even there Joplin showed math scores trending down between 2011 and 2013.

Besendorder says teachers are implementing a new curriculum.
She says, "Sometimes that means teachers are figuring out what works, what didn't work and so that can sometimes have a little bit of a dip."

Sixth grade math teacher Brian Neugebauer at East Middle School says, "In order to have  good MAP scores you need to know your curriculum inside and out and be teaching that curriculum. getting that aligned is the most important part.  If you're teaching that you are usually going to be in great shape  but  the problem with that  is that the curriculum changes each year."   


Superintendent  Huff says when  he came to the district individual schools had differing curriculums.  Now they're finally getting aligned. 
And the district  in adopted  its own  new standards of excellence in June.
Huff says, "I'm pleased  with the  results. We have  very  specific measurable targets. We've got growth targets established in terms of  not only student achievement but teacher retention and recruitment."

 Poor tests scores can impact a district's accreditation.  Something Webb cCtys  Moeller says you cant ignore. He says, " Well the  accreditation status will be based entirely on the MSIP 5 rubric."  
  
Neosho's  assistant superintendent of curriculum says success on the rubric in  academic achievement is the foundation to gains elsewhere. 

Glenda Condict says<"If you have  a high academic achievement, its gonna bring up graduation rate, more student are gonna graduate  and  the attendance rate,  the motivation to get students there.  Um MSIP 5 has broadened the perspective of the district and the community as well as to what's to be expected."
 
Condict  credits the Neosho districts success in MSIP 5 on embracing new common core standards early. She says, "We realigned the existing curriculum with common core  standards and expectations and that gave us an idea of what we needed to do to make adjustments in the classroom.

Something Joplin says its doing now as well.
But common core is a hot button issue among some parents. Some are wanting politicians to get  involved. Still districts are doing to get ready for when common core becomes the next way they pass the test. 

School districts are being asked to measure up to new standards, and while they're graded on 
things like attendance and college/ career readiness, academic achievement is scored by tests.  Coming soon those will be based on the common core.

Parents Melissa Braun and Jill Carter are so concerned about common core they've organized public meetings and even considered home schooling. 

Braun says, "Common core is just going to take away from our children, its  going to  dumb down our system." 

 Common core assessments set standards for all children learning in the United States.    Teachers say here in the four states that can be a positive. 

Neugebauer says, "Here in  southwest Missouri we have students coming from Oklahoma all the time.   We have students coming from Arkansas or Kansas.  In my classroom if I have students from Kansas and Oklahoma come into my classroom and their teachers are teaching the same thing, the same year   its a mc uh smoother process than if they're kid is coming from Kansas and they're farther ahead, or from Oklahoma and not as far."

Joplin teachers and area administrators  say common core creates a more challenging approach
to measuring what students have learned and they're getting ready for it to be part of state assessments. 
 
Third grade teacher Brandi Landis says, "In common core they think critically, have to answer multi step questions,  I think its a step up.  MAP is already rigorous compared to other state testing so I think we'll do just fine really do."

Huff says Joplin schools have, "stopped focusing on the map tests  and the preparation we're doing now with students,   now preparing them for the  what's coming. The next test  is a  much more rigorous challenging test."


 Neosho's Condict says, "The student is asked to pull resources together in order to answer the question.  They're asked to explain, to demonstrate, to synthesize the information prior to answering the questions providing the proof to why they came to that summary."

Neosho aligned curriculum to common core 3 years ago and has seen good results.

Several area school districts transitioned to common core aligned standards in communication arts.
Math is a slower change because some standards switched grade levels.

 Moeller says, "For the  most part, we've  moved to new standards, identified previous standards still assessed and we're  still incorporating those along side new standards."

Money matters  and word problems make math more than equations, its part of teaching common core  in the classroom.

Neugebauer says, "A lot of the common core,  they've upped the reading  level that students need to be able to process. I'm a math teacher.  I do math.  I like numbers but I'm gonna have to do a lot more word  problem, reading even student writing incorporating this year how did  you get this answer."

Missouri state leaders says its  a change in teaching style, not content. Dr. Ron Lankford the deputy commissioner of education for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Missouri says, "I don't really know that schools would be doing  anything any differently than now doing it. By law we cant  mandate a curriculum.  Each school  district sets its own curriculum, own learning activities and its about professional development of teachers about these are the learning standards  against which our students will be measured.  And we've been doing that for years now."

Common core opponents worry it allows for collecting of student data because tests come from contracted  national companies, .   Not developed at the local level..and they're taken online.
Parent Jill Carter says the US Department of Education is having access to data 
and teachers evaluation being based on assessments students take."
State education officials say that's not true. Lankford says, "We do not give information individually identifying information to anybody."

Updated The DESE web site includes a section in which you can see how the current Missouri learning standards change with the addition of common core. Its called crosswalks.  Click here to link or go to the web site below. 


 

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