In 2009, three area school districts received one of the most prestigious awards handed out by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The Shell Knob School District received DESE's Distinction in Performance Award for the fourth consecutive year, and the Cassville School District received its third recognition. The Wheaton School District also excelled this year and received its first Distinction in Performance Award.
In order to earn the academic excellence award, the Cassville and Wheaton school districts met 13 out of 14 performance standards established by DESE. These standards include all six Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test standards. As a kindergarten through eighth grade school district, Shell Knob was required to meet six out of seven performance standards and all four MAP standards.
Cassville High School also recently earned its second bronze medal from U.S. News and World Report. In order to be recognized by the magazine, the local high school attained performance levels that exceeded state averages. In determining the nation's top high schools, the magazine also evaluated student performance using MAP and ACT scores.
Other Barry County school districts have also displayed a commitment to academics by implementing programs to help their students excel.
The Southwest School District received final approval for the A+ program last year. Over a three-year period, the district worked to meet A+ program requirements, which included updating the school's curriculum and implementing an academic tracking system. Through the A+ program, students who complete at least 50 hours of student tutoring, maintain at least 95 percent attendance throughout all four years of high school and earn a 7.0 grade point average will qualify for reduced tuition to many community colleges and technical schools.
The Purdy School District is currently working toward becoming an A+ school district also. The R-II Board approved the implementation of the A+ program, the Missouri Options GED program and the High Schools That Work program in March of 2008. One of the benefits of the High Schools That Work program is to ensure students who are receiving a D or a F grade have the opportunity to receive extra tutoring. The Missouri Options program will give students an opportunity to earn a GED at Purdy High School.
Local school districts have also started offering students more opportunities to receive college credits before moving into the dorms or commuting to community colleges. For example, the Exeter School District recently added a distance learning lab. Through the district's partnership with local colleges and universities, students can complete several college credits long before celebrating their high school graduations.
Through each of these programs, local school districts are working to make students more successful in the classroom and after graduation. The faculty, staff members and administrators at each of these local schools deserve a pat on the back for working to implement and sustain so many wonderful programs and work so hard to ensure student success.