Normandy and Riverview Gardens received high enough state academic performance scores to get the north St. Louis County-based school districts in better standing with state education leaders.
Two districts in the region — St. Louis City and Ferguson-Florissant — saw their annual performance scores dip below the threshold the state considers to be fully accredited. Pattonville and Orchard Farms both received perfect scores.
No district in the state earned marks that would be considered failing in the Annual Performance Report, or APR, published Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. APR is a key indicator on how well schools are educating students.
A rise above or fall below a benchmark does not automatically mean a district’s accreditation status will change. APR scores are a major factor in how a district is classified, but the state Board of Education makes that the decision.
District performance is largely based on student test scores, as well as graduation and attendance rates.
“While there are many, many things that parents should be looking at to make decisions about their schools, we do think this is one tool they can reference that does do a comparison across the state,” education commissioner Margie Vandeven told reporters.
Grade-level subject proficiency test results are up by at least one percent, according to Vandeven. College and career readiness measures have also been inching up, she said.
An APR higher than 70 percent is considered fully accredited and below 50 percent is the unaccredited range. The state average among the more than 500 districts is 89.5 percent.
Moving on up, hopefully
Normandy schools superintendent Charles Pearson is hopeful his district will finally shed the status of Missouri’s only unaccredited school district after landing in the provisionally accredited range for the second straight year.
“It’s a big deal,” he told St. Louis Public Radio.
Normandy needed to show the state consistent improvement on the APR, Pearson said.
“We know we haven’t arrived but we’re beginning to see our points grow in academics and that’s really exciting for us,” he said.
Being bumped up to provisionally accredited later this year or early next would mean Normandy can start to phase out a student transfer program that affects unaccredited districts. Normandy has had to pay for tuition for any student wishing to attend a different, higher performing school. And it has to pay transportation costs to students that transferred to the Francis Howell school district in St. Charles County. That has cost the district millions of dollars.
Neighboring Riverview Gardens, which is currently provisionally accredited, scored in the 70-plus range for the third straight year. That makes the district a candidate to be reclassified as fully accredited.
“We’re very pleased,” superintendent Scott Spurgeon said.
Two Riverview Gardens principals sued the district last month, alleging administrators encouraged staff members to falsify attendance records.
As for St. Louis charter schools, North Side Community School earned a perfect score for the second time in a row. Preclarus Mastery Academy and Carondelet Leadership Academy were among the worst, scoring at the bottom of the provisional accreditation range.
While charter schools are given APR scores, the state does not accredit them the way it does traditional school districts.
The performance scores may not be as telling as they appear. State education officials aren’t factoring in high school algebra and English year-end exams because of a problem with the testing vendor.
Also, because Missouri has had three different standardized tests issued to students in four years, those scores have not been calculated in due to a state law requiring a buffer year after tests are changed.