Education

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
(via 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.

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.

The current Maestro en Casa class in Las Vegas, Honduras.
Michael Dulick

You’d have to say, the odds are in his favor. In fact, it looked like a lock, when he talked me into signing him up for Maestro en Casa in Morazan, where he would spend weekends with Fermin and Maria and their kids. They have a very professional program there, directed by Fermin’s brother-in-law Javier, including actual classes on Saturdays that cover the material the students will be working on during the week at home in their “cuadernos” (combination text- and workbook).

DESE website

A state-appointed task force charged with mapping the future of the Normandy School District has begun meeting in private to come up with recommendations for state school officials by the time the legislative session ends in May.

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

Over the years, many studies have shown the benefits of pre-school and early childhood education. Recently those studies have been re-analyzed and confirmed to be accurate and correct. Thus, many states -- whether the voters are predominantly Democrat or Republican -- have implemented pre kindergarten and early childhood education programs.

St. Louis Public Radio File Photo

With the Missouri legislature approaching its spring break, the Senate has passed a sweeping education bill designed to deal with struggling schools and transfers from unaccredited districts, and a bill addressing similar issues is ready for debate in the House.

knittymarie / Flickr

Can schools cut back sharply on the number of tests that students have to take and still get a good idea of how well they are learning?

The state of Missouri is about to find out.

Missouri's state board of education has reduced the testing schedule dramatically — just a few months after approving a spending request for a testing schedule that would have had third graders taking seven hours of standardized tests each year, and high schoolers taking nine exams in four different subjects.

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, by coincidence, we all seem to have found stories about the joys and sorrows of testing.

AP exam finds women, minorities MIA        

Normandy website

Normandy’s school superintendent says the district’s finances can be helped if lawmakers would cap tuition paid for transfer students at the same amount that districts receive for accepting deseg students going from St. Louis to St. Louis County.

That amount, about $7,200 a year, is less than Normandy has been paying for most of its 1,000 students who transferred to nearby accredited districts at the start of the current school year. Tuition rates range to as high as $20,000, and the payments have put Normandy’s finances at a precarious point.

Ferguson-Florissant website / Art McCoy

Art McCoy, who is currently on paid administrative leave from his job as superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, is in the running for the position 0f president of Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has learned.

Asked about his candidacy for the job, McCoy said in an interview he did not want to discuss it while his status in Ferguson-Florissant remains unclear. But he did acknowledge that he had been asked by several people to consider the Harris-Stowe job, and he agreed to join the search pool.

DESE website

Missouri education officials say their plan that was the subject of public comment at a meeting Tuesday night is designed to prevent school districts from losing accreditation in the future.

But for most of the night, the speakers and the audience were more concerned with what is going to happen to a district that already is unaccredited and is in danger of going out of business altogether: Normandy.

Normandy website

Updated 5:35 p.m. Tues, Feb. 25, with response from Humphrey:

Terry Artis, an outspoken member of the Normandy School District, says voters should oust three of his incumbent colleagues at the April 8 elections because they are not working in the best interests of the district.

Students from Sperreng Middle School in the Lindbergh School District will advance to the National Science Bowl after winning the Missouri regional competition Saturday.

The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of high school and middle school students to compete in answering fast-paced questions in physics, math, biology and more. Team coach Julie Roy said this will be the second year Sperreng is heading to nationals in the two years Missouri has opened its regional competition for middle school students.

Provided by SLU Law School

Nearly 60 years after school segregation was outlawed, two members of the family most associated with the case say that the St. Louis area student transfers show that the true goals of the Supreme Court's ruling remain unfulfilled.

Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose Topeka, Kan., family was the lead plaintiff in the landmark 1954 ruling, told an audience at Saint Louis University law school Friday that their case was more about equality of resources and opportunity than simply letting black and white students sit together.

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

While St. Louisans celebrated our past this week, the news held hints of our future.  Most significant was a proposal from state education officials to revamp how they deal with troubled districts.

Long term, the proposal would allow state officials to intervene early and with a range of approaches. Short term, the state board took financial control of the Normandy schools – a move that caught district officials by surprise.

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