Local schools mixed in APR scores

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Exeter, Southwest and Wheaton schools show growth

After the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2014 annual performance reports to all the school districts, Cassville and Purdy saw double-digit declines, while Exeter, Southwest and Wheaton trended upward and Shell Knob remained constant.

The Missouri School Improvement Program, which started its fifth version during the 2012--2013 school year, generates the APR scores.

The maximum APR score for K--12 districts is 140, and the maximum APR score for K--8 districts is 80. The state will provide accreditation levels to each school when DESE releases APR scores in 2015. It requires a three-year average with MSIP 5.

"There is a big misconception that this is tied to funding," said Sarah Potter, communication coordinator at DESE. "It's really not. What it shows districts is how well they are meeting the needs of their students.

"It's a mirror, a reflection of the areas that they are strong, where they need to improve in order to help their kids succeed."

MSIP 5 accreditation levels (percent of points earned) are:

* Accredited with distinction -- at least 90 percent (additional criteria as yet to be determined by the Missouri State Board of Education)

* Accredited -- 70 to 100 percent

* Provisional -- 50 to 69.9 percent

* Unaccredited -- 0 to 49.9 percent

The Cassville School District received 106.5 points (76.1 percent), a decrease of 12.5 percent over 2013.

MSIP 5 is a great system, said Superintendent Richard Asbill. It is all about growth.

"We acknowledge that we need to do better on the growth piece," Asbill said. "We didn't do too bad on it. It's just that we didn't get where we wanted to.

"We didn't hit some of our goals. But, it is not as simple as, 'Did you get an A or a B?'"

With MSIP 4, the district used to get five years of scores that it could average, said Jill LeCompte, assistant superintendent. With MSIP 5, the district gets three years to average.

"It could make your scores do this roller coaster effect because you do not have enough data to average," LeCompte said. "I think it's another reason why the APR had a disparity because there is not enough scores to make it even.

"MSIP 5 weighs progress and growth, maybe making a district that doesn't normally have as good of scores as us look better because they had more progress and growth."

It is important for schools to have growth, Asbill said.

"For Barry County schools, our kids will move," he said. "Students that are at Wheaton or Southwest or Cassville or Monett or Purdy, at some point and time, they are going to move. So, the fact that MSIP 5 focuses on all of our districts improving, it is not a bad thing because some time or another they may move in our district or ours will move into theirs.

"That is just kind of the nature of the demographics here in our southwest Missouri area."

The Exeter School District received 124 points (88.6 percent), an increase of 4.6 percent over 2013.

Ernest Raney, superintendent of Exeter Schools, said he's excited in the direction the district is going.

"We are continuing to focus on learning," he said. "We know that a lot of work is still being done with technology to help complement this effort, and we're looking for steady increases along the way.

"It takes everybody working together to make it happen, so when we share these results, we talk about what really matters, and that's what's happening in the classroom with the teachers and with the parents motivating the kids. As long as we're all in with our effort, I think we'll continue to see gains over time."

The Purdy School District received 111.5 points (79.6 percent), a decrease of 12.1 percent over 2013.

The system is still brand new, said Superintendent Steven Chancellor.

"I think it is still trying to self correct," Chancellor said. "We also got a lot more bonus points last year than what we were able to get this year. While it went down, I think it's just one measure that we're using. It certainly is not an overall indicator of Purdy or the good things that we are doing here."

The district also does diagnostic testing, he said.

"We are starting this year out higher than we have ever started before," Chancellor said. "In fact, especially in our lower grades, our measurements show that we are starting a whole grade level ahead of where we have in the past. I feel pretty good where with we are and the direction where we are going."

The Southwest School District received 124 points (88.6 percent), an increase of 8.6 percent over 2013.

The biggest overall improvement was in the high school, said Kara Hendrix, curriculum director.

The Wheaton School District received 134.5 points (96.1 percent), an increase of 13.9 percent over 2013.

The district is excited about the increase, but Superintendent Lance Massey said he is concerned about the three-year average with MSIP 5.

"There is a lot of fluctuation across the state in different schools," Massey said. "Some went up. Some went down. Although we are happy with 96.1, we like to be able to keep that year after year. We think that is going to be a challenge to stay at that level.

"We're just continuing to work at the things that we know we are being successful with and trying to make some improvements in those areas that we need additional help in."

The Shell Knob School received 79 points (98.8 percent) in 2014, staying constant over 2013.

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