Education

Adrian Clark | Flickr

This story is part four of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism — defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school — and classroom success. As educators in Missouri  shift their focus from big picture attendance data to individual students, they are looking at how school clinics can help keep kids in school. 

(via Flickr/lowjumpingfrog)

Updated at 8:30 a.m., Wed., April 9.

School board elections brought little change to Normandy and Ferguson-Florissant. In Normandy, three incumbents were facing four challengers for spots on the seven-person board. The winners were current board members Jeanette Pulliam with 19.07 percent and William Humphrey with 16 percent of the vote. A challenger, Gwendolyn Buggs, earned a seat on the board with a little more than 15 percent of the vote.

Dale Singer/St. Louis Public Radio

The charter school operator is opening a new location for kindergarten and first grade in north St. Louis this fall and plans to have six schools in St. Louis five years from now.

On her cell phone, Tiara Abu has a short video showing her and 5-year-old Jawon, sitting on his bed, giving a cheer and doing their best version of jazz hands.

What was the occasion?

“He had just counted to 100 for me,” explained Abu, adding: I hadn’t asked him to.”

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

After failing to make the grade with professors at Washington University, Semester Online is going offline for good.

The consortium was designed to let students at Washington U. and other schools in the group — universities such as Emory, Northwestern and Notre Dame — take online courses in areas that their home school does not offer. It began this school year, and the universities and Semester Online’s parent company, 2U, had high hopes that it could be a pioneer for online learning.

St. Louis Public Radio

School board elections often prompt little more than a ripple of public interest, but they are stirring up quite a bit more in at least two north St. Louis County districts this spring.

In Normandy, three incumbents are facing four challengers for seats on a board that may not even exist after the end of this school year. In Ferguson-Florissant, two incumbents are facing a slate that was moved to join the field after Superintendent Art McCoy was placed on administrative leave, plus other candidates who entered the race as well. McCoy has since resigned his post.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

On Tuesday, April 8, voters will take to the polls to elect board members for their local school districts. April elections, with their focus on local issues such as schools and municipalities, traditionally have a low turnout. However, the results of these elections have a big impact on people’s day-to-day lives, including the policies implemented in their children’s schools.

DESE website

The Normandy School District isn’t going broke at the beginning of April, as some education officials had forecast in recent months. But that doesn’t mean that the district’s future is secure.

At Monday night’s meeting of the state task force formed to recommend the future direction of the district, officials from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said that Normandy’s future depends in large part on what bills the General Assembly may pass before it adjourns in mid-May.

Kimberly Ney | Riverview Gardens School District

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better.

Improve or implode?

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sat., March 29, at 2:09 p.m.

A proposal to bring in nonprofits to run low-performing St. Louis City schools continued to draw criticism during a public hearing at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Saturday.

With comments similar to those made at a forum on Thursday night, members of the elected school board reiterated their opposition to the idea.  

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

Residents of the 24 communities that make up the Normandy School District are rallying behind the schools as their fate is being decided in Jefferson City, a task force studying the district’s future was told Thursday.

Chris Krehmeyer, president and CEO of the group Beyond Housing, said that just as its 24:1 initiative has helped revitalize the area in general, with more options for basic services such as banking and groceries, it also has generated more support for the schools.

Credit Cast a Line / Flickr

Statistic after statistic, ranking after ranking shows American students lagging behind their counterparts across the globe. Missouri’s schools are no exception. Missouri is a perfect example of our country’s diseased public education system. Three districts are currently unaccredited by the state — Kansas City, Riverview Gardens and Normandy — and the St. Louis Public School  system is on the brink, sitting in “provisional accreditation” purgatory.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

As a task force continues its work on how the Normandy School District will operate next school year, lawmakers are moving ahead on appropriating money to help the district finish the current year without going broke.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part four of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism -- defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school -- and classroom success.

Melissa Schut drew out a problem on the white board at the front of her sixth-grade math class.  

Like she often does, Schut started with three questions.

“Where are you starting?” Schut asked.  “Where are you going? How are you going to get there?”

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

Depending on who is telling the story, Washington University dropped its sociology department in 1991 because it was filled with radical thinkers or because it was not strong enough academically.

Or maybe it was a little of both.

Either way, the university announced this week that it will be bringing the department back, with some classes in the field possibly offered as early as this fall.

Mehlville website

Eric Knost, whose job as the superintendent of the Mehlville School District thrust him into the middle of this school year’s student transfer drama, has resigned that job and is in line to become superintendent of the Rockwood schools.

In a notice posted on Mehlville's Facebook page, Knost said he was released from his superintendent’s position, effective June 30, during a closed meeting of that district’s school board Monday night.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This story is the third part of Accounted For, an ongoing project of St. Louis Public Radio that explores the connection between chronic absenteeism — defined as missing three and a half weeks or more of school — and classroom success.

Riverview Gardens Superintendent Scott Spurgeon roamed the halls of Glasgow Elementary School.  On a recent morning the former minor league baseball player turned educator greets students like players entering a dugout.

Dale Singer

Harris-Stowe State University is looking for a new president, and its professors are working under a new contract that was imposed on them by the school's governing board. The labor issues are just one indication that Harris-Stowe faces many long-simmering problems that raise questions about the institution's future.

To outsiders, the atmosphere on the venerable midtown campus was calm. But long-simmering disputes between the faculty and top officials were about to go public.

Harris-Stowe’s journey to the university it is today began in 1857, when the St. Louis Public Schools founded a teacher-training institution for white students only – the first such teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River.

It later became known as Harris Teachers College, which in 1920 grew into a four-year undergraduate institution, offering a bachelor’s degree.

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri state Board of Education voted Friday to approve a plan to intervene in struggling school districts. It also sent the message that it will become more active in making sure districts adopt policies that will result in success.

The plan, revised from a draft version presented to the board last month, spells out various avenues of support that would be provided to or required of school districts depending on how well they score on their annual performance review.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:41 p.m., Fri., March 21.

Saint Louis University has a new president, its first non-Jesuit president, to succeed the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who stepped down amid controversy last year.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Fred Pestello during a special meeting Thursday evening, according to a news release. He will begin his new position on July 1.

More than 108,000 students missed at least three and a half weeks of school last year. That’s enough lost instruction time to be considered chronically absent, defined as missing 10 percent or more of school during the course of the year.

As St. Louis Public Radio reported on Wednesday, chronic absenteeism can set students up for a string of academic problems. 

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

No matter how good schools are, you can’t learn if you’re not there. That simple truth — and its far-reaching implications — are the focus of Accounted For, a St. Louis Public Radio special project that began this week.

Courtesy Normandy School District

Missouri’s public schools are underfunded by $656 million — averaging about $700 for each student in the state — according to an analysis released on Wednesday, but school officials see some hope for relief in the budget debate now being held in Jefferson City.

comedy_nose / Flickr

As part of the St. Louis Public Radio project "Accounted For," chronic student absenteeism was the focus of St. Louis on the Air today. When students miss more than 10 percent of a given year of school, they become chronically absent. Millions of kids across America fall into this category, and it is far too often a predictor of future failure on several levels.

ShuttrKingKT / Flickr

It's a problem that's both obvious and invisible. You can have all the school improvement plans you want, but students can't learn if they're not in class.

With that in mind, St. Louis Public Radio is starting a project that looks at the impact of chronic absenteeism — defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year for any reason — on learning.  

While the length of school years varies by district,  Missouri law requires a minimum of 174 days. That means a chronically absent student is missing at least three and a half weeks of class time. 

teacher with two young children
U.S. Department of Education

Once a week, our team of education reporters would like to share stories that look at trends in education here and across the country. In particular, we want to focus on people, research and even gizmos that may help make kids learn better. This week, our Rundown looks at early childhood education and kindergarten.

Planting the seed

Supporters of Normandy School District Rally

Mar 15, 2014
St. Louis Public Radio

“Normandy Strong” was the cry Saturday at a rally for supporters of the Normandy School District, whose future is uncertain after losing accreditation and bearing the tuition costs of students transferred to other districts.

Officials estimate the district will be bankrupt in April if millions of dollars in supplemental funding isn’t approved by the legislature. Supporters are hopeful that the district, currently unaccredited, can survive this school year and beyond.  

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:45 p.m., Thurs., March 13 with details from final proposal and comments.

This evening St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams outlined his blueprint for building up academic achievement and meeting new standards established under the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5).

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

A task force formed to make recommendations on the future of the Normandy School District will be conducting its future business in public, state education officials said Thursday.

The 10-member panel was named by Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, at the direction of the state board of education. The group held its first meeting on Monday without public notice and planned to continue meeting in private, according to its chair, Carole Basile, who is dean of the school of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Art McCoy
Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Updated with interview with McCoy and report on rally: Art McCoy, who was placed on paid leave from his post as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District in November, has resigned from his job, effective this Saturday.

The move was announced Wednesday afternoon in a joint news release from McCoy and the district Wednesday.

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