Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton (left) spoke with education reporter Dale Singer (right) on "St. Louis on the Air."
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, students, faculty, and staff members of Washington University in St. Louis crossed campus for the first day of classes. They are a lucky bunch: Wash U. is one of the region’s—and the country’s—premiere universities, highly-ranked nationwide in areas from academic programs to student life to campus food options.

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.”

Kindergartner Asia Boles holds out her hands for a backpack full of school supplies Saturday, August 15, 2015 beside her brother Javion Bell, who is entering 7th grade and her mother Annette Boles.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Normandy Schools kicks off its third year without accreditation Monday. Fellow north St. Louis County school district Riverview Gardens also remains unaccredited.

Saturday non-profit Beyond Housing held a resource fair designed to get families ready — and excited — for the school year.

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.     

Taylor Smith (left) coached Michael Watson (middle) and Tyra Searcy (right) during their high school years in the College Bound program.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Asked what she might do after college, Tyra Searcy mentioned media, film — “maybe even politics.” 

Michael Watson, on the other hand, has set his sights on either an engineering program or a business degree.

Watson will begin his freshman year at Kalamazoo College in a few weeks; Searcy is traveling to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University. And both St. Louis-area students credit their success partly to the mentorship and assistance provided by College Bound.

Karissa Anderson (left) of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis and DACA student Naomi Carranza (right) joined host Don Marsh in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

A small but critical addition to a Missouri budget bill may keep the children of undocumented immigrants from attending state public universities by raising their tuition to the amounts international students pay. Now, those students are fighting the law by asking Governor Jay Nixon for help.

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?”

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.

Ernst Zinner
Provided by the family

Ernst K. Zinner, an astrophysicist who spent a distinguished and game-changing career at Washington University -- who, in fact, discovered fossils older than the solar system -- died Thursday, July 30, of complications of mantle cell lymphoma. He was 78 and lived in University City.

Mr. Zinner's interests, his career, the objects of his research, along with his stunning accomplishments, were infinite, as deep and profound as space, aspects of which he knew so well. Although personally modest, his dedication to science was renowned. Colleagues held him in esteem as a brilliant scientist and a nurturing mentor, and as a warm and generous friend.

SIU System president Randy Dunn
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Southern Illinois University System president Randy Dunn has now completed his first year in that role. As part of the “St. Louis on the Air” series on regional colleges and universities, host Don Marsh talked with Dunn on Monday about his first year as president and the challenges faced by institutions of higher learning.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

More than a dozen college students whose parents illegally entered the United States years ago are asking Gov. Jay Nixon for help with suddenly higher tuition rates.

Lawmakers added language to the preamble of a budget bill stating that students who are "unlawfully in the United States" don't qualify for in-state tuition rates and cannot receive scholarships.

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.

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.

Maryville University president Mark Lombardi joined host Don Marsh in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Mark Lombardi, president of Maryville University, is eager to talk about change.

The first recent shift is this: enrollment at Maryville this fall tallies at 6,500 students, double the enrollment of eight years ago. “When the economy tanked in ’08 and ’09 and a lot of universities sort of circled the wagons…we sort of went out and started a massive recruitment effort outside,” he said, expanding the student body and increasing diversity with students from Texas, Colorado, and California.

(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

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.