Earlier this week, the State Board of Education granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation — the first time it could do so in 16 years.
Most members of the state board said that the school district’s turnaround success was due to Superintendent Kelvin Adams. On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines,” Adams joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the accreditation and where you can expect the school district to go from here.
Why does accreditation matter?
“It’s a sense of accomplishment,” Adams said. “We don’t get any more money, the requirements the state holds are basically still the same…but it’s saying that we are making progress and growth in ways that the district has not done since the year 2000.”
While the decision does not bring any immediate material benefits, it does send a message to parents who may have been concerned about moving to a city whose school district was not fully accredited.
Adams also noted the economic benefits of accreditation, citing higher graduation rates and a strengthened business community as potential instigators of long-term change.
Progress toward academic achievement standards
The school board’s decision was based on factors including improved test scores, attendance, graduation rates, governance and finance.
At the same time, the board also acknowledged that the academic achievement of students was still not where it needed to be.
“Every single year there’s been growth that’s taken place,” Adams said. “It’s kind of like a person starting a race 100 yards behind…and that’s where we were, so we have a lot of room to catch up.”
Partnerships and community support
“There are a number of different entities that work with us to make this happen for kids,” Adams said. “We don’t do this work in isolation."
He also credited family engagement and community support as integral to the growth St. Louis Public Schools has experienced over the past several years.
“It’s impossible to make this work happen if we think we can do it in and of ourselves,” said Adams. “We need the partnerships, and the partnerships make a difference.”
While he agreed that this week’s decision was cause for celebration, Adams recognizes that there is still a lot of work ahead, primarily in raising the district’s academic achievement levels in the coming years.
“In terms of growth, we have made the kind of growth that says to the state and says to the community, we’re moving in the right direction, and we want to acknowledge that.”
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.