R-IV District gets straight A's from state

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Cassville R-IV School District has received high marks from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), earning 147 of 149 possible points on its latest Missouri School Improvement Review and achieving full accreditation from the state.

The 2005 review is the third time the district has gone through the very extensive Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) process. All three times, Cassville has been fully accredited.

This year's final report is the best the district has ever received.

"This is nearly as good as you can get," said Superintendent Jim Orrell. "I'm very pleased that the district earned 147 out of 149 points."

MSIP was adopted in 1990 by the State Board of Education as the process of classifying and accrediting Missouri public school districts. The program outlines a set of specific standards upon which the quality of district programs is judged.

Standards are divided into three sections: resource standards, process standards and performance standards. Resource standards are the basic requirements all districts must meet. Process standards refer to the process of schooling, which includes curriculum, instruction, media centers, facilities, professional development, guidance and counseling, safety and support services. Performance standards focus on student achievement and career preparation.

In the area of resources, the R-IV District scored nine out of 11 possible points. Full points were awarded in the areas of professional staff, administration and certification/planning time. Two of a possible three points were awarded for program of studies. The district received a zero out of a one possible point in the area of class size.

"State budget cuts over the last five years have forced the in low district to cut teachers and school programs, which has caused the number of students in each class to increase and the number of classes to go down," said Orrell.

In the process summary, Cassville received 38 out of 38 possible points in the areas of instructional design and practices, differential instruction and school services.

The district also received 100 percent of the 100 points possible in the performance summary. This section included MAP scores, dropout rates, advanced courses, college placement, vocational courses, vocational placement, attendance and ACT scores.

In releasing the district's MSIP review results, a list of strengths and concerns are listed.

The district's strengths, as noted in the state board summary, include:

The percent of graduates who scored at or above the national average on the ACT is at a high level. According to the MSIP report, 26.7 percent of CHS graduates scored at or above the national ACT score in 2001. That percentage rose to 33.3 percent in 2002 and 34.4 percent in 2003. In 2004, 31.5 percent of CHS graduates scored at or above the national level, and in 2005, the percentage stood at 31 percent.

The percent of advanced courses taken by juniors and seniors is at a high level. In 2005, 38.4 percent of the credits earned by CHS upperclassmen are earned in advanced courses. That percentage reached a high of 45.1 percent in 2004.

The percent of vocational completers who were placed in related employment or continued their education after graduation is at a high level. In 2004, 85.1 percent of CHS graduates who completed a vocational education program were placed in occupations relating to their field of training, attending college or enlisted in the military.

The district provides a large number of exploratory classes for seventh and eighth grade students. At the middle school level, 10 courses are provided beyond the basic core requirements.

The district provides the minimum number of high school credits in all subject areas and the desirable number of high school credits in at least seven subject areas. In addition, the district provided classes in five of the seven vocational areas over a two-year period of time.

The district's librarian-to-student staffing ratio meets the desirable standards at all levels.

The district's principal-to-student staffing ratio meets the desirable standard at the middle school.

Data indicates that the strategies in the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) have been evaluated and updated recently.

Areas of concern are:

MAP achievement results in the grade span of sixth through eighth grade showed improvement, but the scores were low in science.

Full-time elementary students are not provided 50 minutes of art and physical education instruction each week.

Five percent or more of the district's self-contained classes do not meet the minimum class-size standards. This concern is focused on the kindergarten through sixth grade levels.

The preschool and middle school facilities do not have lighted exit signs at some outside exits.

Based on district statistical information provided in the MSIP accreditation summary, the R-IV District has steadily increased its per-pupil expenditures from $4,990 in 2001 to $5,314 in 2004. The average teacher's salary has also grown slightly over the past four years, rising from $34,381 in 2001 to $36,964 in 2004.

Districts go through the MSIP process every five years. Cassville will not be re-evaluated again until 2010.

"I would like to thank staff, students and parents for their assistance with the MSIP process and their support," said Orrell. "The success of our school in this process is indicative of a great staff, serious students and parents who recognize the importance of good schools and a good education. Specifically, I thank everyone for taking MAP tests seriously and doing their best."

In response to the final report issued by DESE, Cassville R-IV School District must detail actions it will take to address minor concerns listed in the MSIP summary report. These responses are due by April 12. Any major concerns must be included in the district's long-range improvement objectives and incorporated into the district's Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP).

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