Education

File photo

Normandy school officials hope disappointing test scores from last year don’t dampen the enthusiasm they’re seeing for improvement in the school year just begun.

Presenting the district’s latest MAP scores – the first report since it became the Normandy Schools Collaborative, run by a state-appointed board – Superintendent Charles Pearson acknowledged to board members Thursday night that “these are not high scores to say the least.”

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

To get an idea about how difficult it can be to interpret test score data when it comes to charter schools, consider Lafayette Preparatory Academy, just west of downtown.

Kathy Boyd-Fenger (left) and Colin Miller (right) joined "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about Logos School's 45 years of serving at-risk students.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

For young people with mental health conditions or behavioral disorders, school can be frustrating, and even counter-productive; many such students are considered ‘at risk’ of failing out of the education system. It’s a nationwide problem: the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicated that approximately 50 percent of high-school-age students with a mental illness drop out of high school, and that mental illness plagues 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

For any school district, the path to success is rarely clear, but in Missouri, new numbers create a MAP that is particularly hard to read.

And that picture is likely to remain fuzzy for a few more years at least.

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Test results for Missouri schools released Monday show that Normandy and Riverview Gardens, the only unaccredited districts in the state, continue to struggle.

State education officials stress that because the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests given in the spring were based on new standards, the results cannot be compared with results from previous years.

Judge Patricia Riehl presides over Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Robert Brummel’s troubles began even before he left the Army in 2010. Then things went downhill when he became a civilian.

“It was all alcohol and drug abuse because of certain things that were going on,” he recalls. “Marriage issues. Divorce. Yeah, homeless.”

St. Louis Public Schools

You can’t teach kids if they’re not in class. 

With more than 27,000 students heading back to St. Louis Public Schools next week, as well as many of the city's charter and private schools starting classes, officials are reinforcing that point. Because, they say, lost learning time only leads to lost potential.     

Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Missouri students took a new MAP test in the spring, but results released Tuesday show that the achievement gap between all students and disadvantaged students persists.

According to figures released at the meeting of the state board of education in Jefferson City, students who are black, Hispanic, low-income, disabled or English language learners -- known in education language as a "super subgroup" --  lagged behind students as a whole in all four content categories measured: English, math, science and social studies.

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

When it comes to letting the public know how well schools in Missouri are doing, Pattonville Superintendent Mike Fulton has a simple goal:

He would like to see a system that is clear enough that a third-grader can explain it to adults.

“After all,” he says, “these tests ought to be designed for the child to be the first and most important audience. That’s an important theme here. If it’s not meaningful to the child, then why are we giving the test?”

The Missouri Eastern Correctional Center hosts Washington University's prison education pilot program.
Katelyn Mae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The question of quality of life for imprisoned persons is a difficult one.

What kind of opportunities do prisoners deserve? And if imprisonment merits any kind of effort to improve quality of life, which initiatives are most important? Most helpful? Most appropriate?

Gov. Jay Nixon, center, listens to an update on efforts to help Riverview Gardens and Normandy at EducationPlus. He is flanked by Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon, right, and Nixon education adviser Mike Nietzel, left.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Jay Nixon says the regional effort by St. Louis area school districts to help Normandy and Riverview Gardens could not only lead to their regaining accreditation but could also strengthen public education in general.

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Missouri needs to strike a balance between making sure that all teachers are prepared to enter the classroom and that minorities and women are treated fairly by tests that certify them to teach.

That balance was a main topic of discussion Tuesday at a joint meeting in Columbia between the state Board of Education, which represents interests of K-12 school districts, and the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which governs public colleges and universities in the state.

Little boy trying spinach.
Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A single school is like an entire community.

You've got the mayor, or principal. There is the general population, the students and their parents. There's a grocery store in the form of a cafeteria. And the teachers are kind of like doctors and police officers rolled into one. Within that batch of characters, there are gossips and scofflaws; actors and judges; even engineers and critics.

The Gender Unicorn graphic.
Trans Student Educational Resources

As someone who has been disabled almost all her life, Amber Cheek knows how a seemingly kind word or helpful gesture from well-intentioned people can be subtly demeaning.

As the director of accessibility at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Cheek also knows that education and understanding can go a long way toward knowing the right words to say and bridging what she sees is often an information and generation gap.

(via Flickr/albertogp123)

As August approaches and the back-to-school mindset takes hold, schools and parents typically wonder how students did last year and what adjustments may be needed when classes resume.

For Missouri schools, some of those answers are delayed this year. Even when they are available, their meaning won’t be clear, and that uncertainty is likely to persist for many years to come.

Jeff Pittman, new chancellor of St. Louis Community College
STLCC

After more than 30 years with the statewide community college system in Indiana, Jeff Pittman is in his first month as chancellor of St. Louis Community College.

Pittman says he is happy to be back in a job that brings him into closer contact with students and campuses.

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Students who have lived in Missouri for nearly all of their lives and graduated from Missouri schools are no longer considered Missourians when it comes to the tuition they must pay at public colleges and universities.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

Wardrobe freedom could be ending for students at Normandy High School.

Under a proposal being presented to the district’s appointed board Thursday night, a dress code that has applied only to students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade would once again extend to high school students.

Webster University

If you need any more reason to be concerned about security of the global online system that runs everything from the financial world to the airlines to the federal government, consider these headlines from last week:

“Apocalypse Now?: NYSE, WSJ outages spook Twitter" 

“The Glitching Hour”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, It’s Time to Panic" 

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
(via Google Maps screen capture)

The words to the Normandy High School fight song take on a different meaning in a new film by Terry Artis.

A 1982 graduate of the school and a former member of the school board of the unaccredited north St. Louis County district, Artis wrote, produced and directed “The Dismantling of the Normandy School District.”

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