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The B List: What 5 education terms mean, part 1

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 3, 2013 - 1. MSIP5: The Missouri School Improvement Plan 5 – The improvement plans started in 1990 and this is the first year of the fifth cycle. The scoring standards require schools to earn al least 70 percent of the 140 points possible for full accreditation and between 50 AND 70 percent for provisional accreditation.

2. Accreditation status: How a district ranks based on the number of points it earned on its evaluation for the 2012-13 school year. Status is an indicator; it is distinct from accreditation classification. That is a district that is in the accredited classification might have earned only provisional status if this year’s scores were between 50 and 70, but the state is not planning to recommend changes in a district’s classification until it has three years of MSIP5 data.

3. ‘Accreditation with distinction’: The designation for districts that earn 90 percent or more of their possible points and also meet other criteria. Those other criteria haven’t been set yet, but the state school board says it is trying to find standards that truly set districts apart. As board member Mike Jones said at a recent meeting, “Just because you make the major leagues does not mean you belong in the Hall of Fame.”

4. Zero: No one wants to see this number on a report card, but it does not mean that the district as a whole failed to show sufficient improvement to earn anything. It doesn’t mean that zero children in the district were proficient. It just means that a district didn’t earn points based on its aggregate achievement or individual student growth.

5. Comparisons: You can’t take last year’s numbers (based on a maximum of 14), put a zero on the end and judge progress. The differences between MSIP4 and MSIP5 are significant. And given the changes that can take place in a district, plus other changes coming to education in Missouri, the Ferguson-Florissant superintendent says, “The comparisons from year to year are not just apples to oranges but grapefruits and pears.”

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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