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Lindbergh expects to earn fifth Distinction in Performance Award

October 26, 2005 - By LAURA UHLMANSIEK

Staff Reporter

Lindbergh School District officials say they expect the district will receive the state's Distinction in Performance Award for the fifth consecutive year.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed-ucation issues an Annual Performance Report for each school district in the state, detailing how each district met Missouri School Improvement Plan performance measures and Missouri Assessment Program standards. 2005 Annual Performance Reports will be released by the state next week.

Although they haven't received the district's final MAP scores, Lindbergh officials said the school district so far has met the rest of the criteria on the Annual Performance Report to qualify for the Distinction in Performance Award.

"When I go out to the community, I say from the standpoint of our report card from the state, which is our Annual Per-formance Report, we have perfect scores for the district and a perfect score for each of the individual buildings," Superinten-dent Jim Sandfort told the Call. "From this, we should be recognized for Distinc-tion in Performance, that's the way it has worked every year."

Nancy Rathjen, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told the Call that the Annual Performance Report, or APR, is an excellent way for school districts to gauge how they performed for the year.

"When you look at just one test to determine whether you're a good school district or not, that's a very limiting factor," Rathjen said. "But instead when you look at all of these factors, it gives you a fuller picture. It's a balanced look, and that's important for our community to know that they have a school district that does it all well."

To earn the Distinction in Performance Award, districts must meet 11 of 12 MSIP performance standards, which include MAP test scores, ACT test scores, ad-vanced course offerings, college placement, vocational placement, dropout rate and attendance rate.

Rathjen said that if a school district fails to meet any of the criteria, then the state will look at those areas during the district's MSIP review. If a school district fails to meet several criteria, then the state may take drastic measures.

"That's where the state either takes away accreditation, and in some of the severest cases, they have actually moved in some of the state personnel to help the school district redesign their professional development, redevelop their curriculum — start all over in terms of many important things."

Although the school districts have already received preliminary APR scores, the state gives school districts additional time to check the information for mistakes. The state is scheduled to release the final APR scores, as well as which school districts earned Distinction in Perfor-mance, Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Rathjen told the Call that the preliminary numbers the district received showed that the district should meet all of the criteria and receive a perfect score of 100 on the APR .

For the 2004-2005 school year, Lind-bergh graduates achieved an average score of 22.5 on the ACT, which is above the state average of 21.4. The district's average ACT score has increased over the years with an average score of 21.9 for the 2001-2002 school year, 22 for the 2002-2003 school year and 22.4 for the 2003-2004 school year.

The APR also looks at how many students are enrolled in advanced courses. Last year, 56.6 percent of school credits were earned in advanced courses

"The more kids you can get into ad-vanced course work, the more rigorous your preparation is, and the more students will learn," Rathjen said. "So they want to see rigorous courses, and if you offer rigorous courses but you only have 1 percent of your students taking them, then you haven't really done a good job of preparing them for high school."

The state also considers how many students are taking vocational course work. Last year, 4.5 percent of credits earned in the school district were earned in vocational courses. 1.4 percent of credits were earned in vocational classes for the 2001-2002 school year, 3.7 percent was earned for 2002-2003 and 4.8 was earned in 2002-2004.

"The idea is you need to be offering coursework for students who are not planning on attending college, or who are planning on attending college in certain areas," Rathjen said.

The APR also evaluates college placement, which Lindbergh has improved over the years. At the end of last year, 92 percent of Lindbergh High School graduates attended college, up from previous years — 85.8 percent of graduates had attended college for the 2001-2002 school year, 89.1 percent for 2002-2003 and 88.9 percent for 2003-2004.

The dropout rate at Lindbergh also has improved. While the state's average drop out rate for last year was 3.9 percent, Lind-bergh was far below that at 1.6 percent. The school district's drop out rate was 3.4 percent in 2001-2002, 1.8 percent in 2002-2003 and again 1.8 percent in 2003-2004.

Sandfort told the Call that the district had focused on improving attendance in the district, especially raising Voluntary Inter-district Choice Corp. student attendance to same attendance level as residents in the district.

"They (attendance rates) are virtually the same, they're within a tenth of a point difference," Sandfort told the Call. "But that takes a lot of work because you have the difference between being a resident and being 25 miles away and having to get on a bus a half hour, 45 minutes earlier, and the commitment those families make, and we just put a lot of stress and attention on attendance. It's a priority and our sense is if you're not in school, you're not learning, and so it's important to be here."

Last year, the district's attendance was 95.66 percent. That rate has increased from 94.6 percent for the 2001-2002 school year, 94.9 percent for 2002-2003 and 95.8 percent for 2003-2004.

Regarding the MAP test scores, Sandfort told the Call that the district has spent a lot of time improving instruction and addressing students' needs and the preliminary MAP scores have shown the district's pro-gress. Lindbergh has been spending additional time and resources for at-risk students with specific needs without diminishing opportunities for the gifted and honors programs, he said.

"That has been the biggest change and it is a strength that we have really stepped up, that our board has really stepped up and they have said what you're doing, we want to support that. Our board is spending more money each year on instruction and on working with kids in the classroom than ever before, and the results are showing in our MAP tests scores,'' Sandfort said.

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