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Mehlville drops 27 points on Annual Performance Report


November 17, 2004 - By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

The Mehlville School District received 73 points on its 2004 Annual Performance Report, a drop of 27 points from the perfect score of 100 it earned the past two years.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issues an Annual Performance Report for each school district in the state, detailing how each district met Missouri School Improvement Plan performance measures and Mis-souri Assessment Program standards.

For the past two years, the Mehlville School District has earned the Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed-ucation's Distinction in Performance Award, earning a perfect score of 100 points. To qualify for the award, districts must meet 11 of 12 MSIP performance standards, which include MAP test scores, ACT test scores, advanced course offerings, college placement, vocational placement, dropout rate and attendance rate.

The Mehlville School District did not meet standards in three areas based on tests administered last spring, Assistant Super-intendent for Student Services Cindy Lynch told the Board of Education Nov. 3 during a presentation about Adequate Year-ly Progress, or AYP, in meeting the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, and about the Annual Performance Report.

"... In grades three through five, we met the standard by looking at our scores. In MAP grades six through eight, we did not meet the standards there, due to our scores. In MAP grades nine through 11, we met the standard,'' Lynch said. "And then they also pull out a reading index out of the comm (communication) arts. And we did not meet the reading index in either grade three or grade seven and we had, when you look at just the reading component, we had 77.6 percent satisfactory or above in grade three and we had 64.2 percent satisfactory or above in grade seven and that was a little lower than what we had last year.

"The Annual Performance Report is not only made up of our MAP scores, but it's also made up of other factors and we did meet all the other factors, which were our ACT scores, our advanced courses, vocational courses, college placement, vocational placement and our dropout and attendance. We did meet in all of those areas,'' she said.

Not meeting the standards in the three areas cost the district 27 points on its 2004 APR as compared to the previous two years.

Other local school districts earning 73 points on their APRs were the Windsor School District and the Ferguson-Flor-issant School District.

Among area school districts earning a perfect 100 points on their APRs were Lindbergh, Clayton, Webster Groves, Kirk-wood, Rockwood, Pattonville, Parkway, Fox and Washington.

Other local school districts and their APR scores are: Affton, 91; Francis Howell, 91; Bayless, 82; Hancock Place, 84; and Val-ley Park, 82.

Regarding AYP, AYP reports track whe-ther Missouri school districts will comply with 2002's No Child Left Behind Act.

Districts have until 2014 to make sure each student is proficient in reading and math, according to the federal mandate.

Because states are allowed to create their own definition of what proficiency means, Missouri set its requirements based on the MAP tests, which students take every spring. Based on a five-level system, students must score at above grade level, which is the second highest, to be considered proficient.

Lynch reported that as a district, Mehl-ville met AYP standards for communications arts and math.

For 2004, the AYP standard in communication arts was 20.4 percent proficient and Mehlville achieved 31.3 percent as a district.

"... If you remember, we're trying to every year, the percentage will be raised until the year 2014, when it should be 100 percent,'' Lynch said. "Next year, our target will jump from 20.4 to 38.8 percent in communication arts. And for MAP math, the target this year was that 10.3 percent would be proficient and in next year it will jump, it's a pretty big jump, from 10.3 to 31.1 in 2005,'' Lynch said.

For 2004, the AYP standard in math was 10.3 percent proficient and Mehlville achieved 25.6 percent as a district.

"Math AYP, keep in mind that our target this year was 10.3 percent. We had a district total of 25.6 percent. So we did meet it in the district total,'' Lynch said.

Though the district as a whole met AYP standards in communications arts and math, some subgroups did not.

"These scores, while they're used for the AYP as we discussed, they're also used for our annual performance report or APR, which makes up our accreditation or it's taken into account for our MSIP reviews,'' Lynch said.

During a discussion of trends from the AYP and APR reports, Lynch said, "... One of the conclusions that we can make, obviously, our trend is that we've stayed pretty constant over the past few years. We've gone down slightly, but when you look at the significance of that, we've stayed pretty static, but as you saw by AYP, (you) can't do that. We have to increase every year and so when we look at how we rank in the state, so by staying the same, other districts are now starting to get a little bit more of an edge. So that's one of the things that has us very concerned,'' Lynch said.

"And the administration, not only Central Office, but all of the principals and directors, we're working on putting an improvement plan together and we're right in the middle of that process. What we're hoping to do is bring the improvement plan to all of you,'' she said.

"Today was meant to share the scores with you, but we'll bring the improvement plan to you at the next meeting in Novem-ber. And then this plan will then also be filtered through the long-range planning group to become our ... Comprehensive School Improvement Plan,'' she added.

Board Vice President Matthew Chellis said, "Cindy, we're talking about a trend of relative performance compared to other school districts?''

Lynch replied, "No, our own. I think our own performance. It has stayed pretty static, but if you look at through the past few years how the other districts have done, we seem like our ranking in the state has gone down slightly and so what's happening is I think a few other districts have gotten their working improvement plans together and they seem to be working. If we stay the same, we're going to lose ground and that's exactly what's happened. So what we're needing to do is push forward ... Staying the same — it's not going to work for AYP and it certainly isn't working for our APR either.''

Board member Rita Diekemper asked Lynch about the impact of redistricting, particularly at the middle-school level.

"... That whole process, I mean I have to expect that that would have some effect at least temporarily on our test scores. I know that's kind of hard to quantify,'' she said.

Lynch said, "It's hard to measure. It has made a difference with certain configurations for certain schools, certain elementary schools who we've kind of changed the population, maybe put a few more subgroups into certain schools by our configuration ... When we look at the district as a whole, it's real hard to pull that out to know. There are so many factors that we are trying to look at through our data analysis right now and we'll be bringing some of that to you ...''

The assistant superintendent also noted, "We have the same kids, but they may be in different schools right now. So a few of the schools' scores compared against them-selves may look a little different due to that, but it's basically the same students in the district ... It's hard to quantify how the redistricting helped or hurt.''

Superintendent Tim Ricker said, "... As we look at the elementary schools, regardless of their level of proficiency, we're not moving kids up, whether they're our highest of high schools or our schools that are in need of more help. And that's one of the things that the APR has a major factor ... for MAP test scores is that they continually have to move. And when Cindy says that we have been static, that causes us problems in the calculations for the points we need to meet the standards because those standards don't stay static.''

Ricker later said, "The question I asked the building principals at the beginning of the year before we got all this data was two things. What's an explanation for this and then secondly are other school districts' teachers better than ours? These are rhetorical questions obviously and obviously I don't think they are. And then secondly are the other kids in the other districts smarter than ours? And I think the resounding answer to that is no, they're not as well.''

Given that, the district needs to come up with a system in the classroom that works for more of its students, Ricker said, noting, "That's not going to happen overnight ...''

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