The most recent statewide test results and graduation data are in, and Northland schools fare well in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Annual Performance Reports for local schools.
“I think they were kind of tired of schools comparing themselves to one another,” Smithville School District Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services Michelle Kratofil said as she explained the grading system is different this year than in years past.
Instead of providing an actual percent of points earned, for the first time DESE provided a general range of achievement scale that landed subjects and categories on a color-coded bar with four areas of expectation: floor, approaching, on track, and target/exceeding.
Scores were provided for regular and subgroup categories of English language arts and math, ACT scores, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rates. Subgroup categories separate groups of diversity including but not limited to students with individual learning plans from the collective whole.
Data included below is only part of the picture, as science data will not be added to the total APR for districts until late November.
Overall test rankings put Kearney in the top 10% of the state in nine of 15 tests.
As far as ELA, Communications Specialist for Kearney School District Sonja Love-Dewey said students tested at the top of the district’s peer group of similar schools and schools in the area. Kearney also ranked in the top 13% of the state overall and the top 10% of the state in seven of eight tests given.
Lowest marks for the district were in ELA subgroups, which ranked on the floor, and in math subgroups, which ranked on track.
“Several years ago, the school district felt it needed to make improvements in mathematics instruction,” Love said. “Math has become the focus of the district’s thematic goal and staff have dedicated extensive professional development time on math instruction.”
The district ranked at the top of its peer group in math for grades six and seven and in the top 5% in the state. Additionally, math scores exceeded the state average by 30% in the same grades.
Kearney students’ average ACT score is 22.9, compared to the state average of 20.8, and improved from 21.7 during the 2018-19 school year.
Kearney continues to rank high in college and career readiness. Ranking at 97.7%, Kearney is at the top of its peer group when it comes to post-graduate success. The district also claimed exceeding marks in attendance and graduation rates.
Continued efforts by Liberty Public Schools on providing a quality graduate profile for students focusing on cultural, personal, academic, professional and entrepreneurial skills were affirmed by DESE’s APR released in mid-October, an LPS press release states.
“LPS received ‘target’ status, the highest possible, in college and career readiness, advanced placement, post-secondary placement, attendance and graduation rates,” the release continues.
The district also achieved 95.5% of students having a four-year graduation rate, the highest LPS has seen.
“Overall, this news is an affirmation of all of the hard work and support of our students, teachers, support staff, district families and community,” Superintendent Jeremy Tucker said. “We are pleased to see our students continue to thrive and leverage strengths, while also recognizing and addressing areas of needed growth.”
Growth was on the floor for Liberty Public Schools in individual students’ ELA and math categories in both regular and subgroup areas, while overall, both categories are seeing marks in the on-track range. This data is not uncommon for districts as large as LPS, professionals say, as growth is hard to achieve when a district is already doing well.
“We recognize the opportunity we have daily for our students to be successful,” Tucker said. “We continue to look for ways to equip our teachers with the necessary tools to help them succeed.”
As in the past, a press release begins, Smithville schools had many strengths and celebrations revealed in this year’s report.
In the area of academic achievement, based entirely on the end-of-year Missouri Assessment Program tests in ELA and math, the district demonstrated exceeding expected growth in individual student achievement, as a district and in subgroup categories. Additionally, the district’s three-year average of performance is on track.
According to the scorecard, Smithville schools continue to do better than in previous years with nearly all students achieving high levels in math and approaching high levels in ELA. Subgroups show over 5% growth in both categories, Kratofil added, as subgroups were targeted for improvement efforts based on last year’s scores.
“Both of these achievements are worthy of celebration,” Kratofil said. “We have been implementing a plan to improve instructional practices in both English language arts and mathematics for the past two years, and it is gratifying to see the hard work or our teachers, support staff, administrators and students reflected in our student achievement scores.”
In the categories of attendance, graduation rates and college and career readiness, Smithville exceeded expectations. College and career readiness include performance in college-level courses like Advanced Placement and dual credit classes, performance on postsecondary readiness assessments like ACT and Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, performance on industry-recognized credentials for students participating in career technical education courses, and post-secondary placement of graduates in college, vocational training, military or workforce, the release concludes.
“This is really exciting information,” Kratofil said. “We made shifts in our instruction and this shows that it’s working.”