Education

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Pastor Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church led fourth graders at Koch Elementary in an affirmation. “I am somebody!” Johnson exclaimed. “I am somebody!” students replied. Johnson was there to hand out teddy bears donated by Build-A-Bear and books from the American Federation of Teachers. The effort was organized by his church’s Center for Social Empowerment and Justice, which was launched to support local business and schools in the Ferguson area.

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.”

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

A four-year pilot initiative in Quincy hopes to develop a pipeline of skilled workers to fill technical jobs at local businesses.

Harris-Stowe State University president Dwaun Warmack joined "St. Louis on the Air" as part of its series on regional institutions of higher education.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Dwaun Warmack became president of Harris-Stowe State University in July 2014. Calling himself a “change agent,” Warmack told “St. Louis on the Air” last November that his first focus was on assessment: understanding the university he meant to guide. Now, he is moving from the ‘assessment’ phase of his presidency to the ‘action’ phase. Since last November, Harris-Stowe has won the ability to offer graduate degree programs, increased enrollment, and made what Warmack called a “bold statement”...

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

The debate over school choice touches on complex questions of individual merit, public responsibility, and the oft-cited ‘right’ to a good education. It also touches close to home. St. Louis County’s Normandy School District has gained infamy in recent years thanks to financial crises and its on-again, off-again accreditation status. Recently, a highly-cited episode of “ This American Life ” detailed Normandy’s downward spiral through the eyes of students who, after the district lost its...

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. When the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released scores last week from the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests that were taken in the spring, numbers from Lafayette stood out. The percentages of students at the downtown west charter school who scored in the proficient or advanced categories were 66.7 in...

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. Over the past twenty years, Wash U. has experienced tremendous growth in prestige, enrollment, and programming. With that growth have come changes and challenges—from inside...

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. Logos School opened 45...

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. In this case, of course, the MAP is made up of scores from the Missouri Assessment Program, the state standardized test given to public school students every spring. Typically, this is the time of year when districts can tell the public where they stand compared to previous years,...

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.

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. For example, of the 604 students held back a grade in St. Louis Public Schools last year, roughly one in five missed the first day of school. Of that same group of students, 20 percent...

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. College Bound is a St. Louis...

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. New language in the bill affects ‘Dreamers,’ who are covered under the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program allows undocumented individuals who came to...

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?” Fulton is co-chair of a statewide group of...

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. During a visit to EducationPlus in St. Louis County Tuesday morning, Nixon heard an update on what is now called the St. Louis Regional Collaborative for Educational Excellence. The effort was announced in late June after lawmakers failed to include a cap on tuition...

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. Dunn says that education as a whole is going through a transformative, transitional phase, marked by administrative growth, the blending of online classes with traditional...

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. Data reported to...

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. The...

(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. The reason: Changes mandated by lawmakers mean that state school officials have to rush to come up with a new test for...

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.

Beth Stroble
Alex Heuer

In September 2014, Webster University began celebrating its centennial year of providing higher education in the St. Louis region and across the world. Beth Stroble, president of Webster University, said the institution is continuing to expand its reach. In January 2016, classes will begin at the Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis as part of the Gateway Campus. Currently, the downtown campus accommodates 500 students, with 500 more expected to enroll by next year. “Every major urban or...

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
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" That outburst of outages may have been just technical timeouts , not malicious mischief. But last month’s intrusion into the federal government computer system – a...

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
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.” The former high school drummer starts off the movie showing the Normandy band marching in formation, with the school song playing in the background, a plaintive version of the...

A classroom inside of Eliiot Elementary. The sub-ceiling is down, paint is stripped off the walls, all the copper is out of the building and the alarm system’s been ripped out.
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Virginia Savage can remember being a nervous fourth grader walking into Marshall Elementary for the first time in the Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis. “It was a great school to me,” Savage said. “And when it shut down, I was hurt.” Left vacant for six years, the building now has vines crawling into the broken windows that fill Marshall's once stately facade. Savage lives nearby and sees something much worse than a crumbling building. “Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That’s what I see...

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