Based on the newest evaluations compiled by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), most of the lake area school districts received scores higher than 90 percent on the 2013 Annual Performance Report (APR).
The fifth version of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5) took effect this year after after the state Board of Education approved the program in Dec. 2011. Instead of a 14-point checklist, school districts are now given a percentage point grade, similar to a report card, that makes finer distinctions in five specific areas of evaluation.
The newly-implemented APR gives districts an itemized report detailing the success of the district in five performance standards: academic achievement (Missouri Assessment Program [MAP] scores), subgroup achievement (Academic performance for students in identified subgroups including free/reduced price lunch students, racial/ethnic background students, English language learners, students with disabilities), college and career readiness, attendance rate and graduation rate.
Of the lake area school districts, the School of the Osage had the overall highest score at 97.5 percent. Camdenton R-III came in next at 96.8 percent. Eldon R-I, Morgan County R-II and Climax Springs R-IV hovered between 91 and 92 percent, with scores at 91.8, 91.4 and 91.1 percent respectively. Macks Creek R-V scored the lowest of the immediate lake area districts at 87.9 percent.
The new evaluation provides more detailed distinctions on the performance of the district compared to the fourth cycle of MSIP — implemented between the 2006-2007 and 2011-2012 school years. Instead of receiving 'met' or 'not met' on evaluation criteria, districts are awarded points based on performance.
Rather than creating a black and white report, the MSIP 5 APR shows degrees of success and improvement. Most districts can earn up to 140 on MSIP 5's APR.
In 2012 for example, both the School of the Osage and Camdenton R-III met 14 of 14 points on the APR. But in 2013, the School of the Osage received 136.5 points out of 140 while Camdenton earned 135.5 points out of 140.
Some area school officials say the new evaluation standards more accurately pinpoint areas for improvement.
"I think the MSIP 5 is the most fair way they have come up with so far," Camdenton Assistant Superintendent Ryan Neal said.
But others say the system still does not accurately evaluate districts.
"It makes it look like a range, but that's almost a misrepresentation. You've met or haven't met a target. It's not a range," Morgan County R-II Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson said. "Are they trying to say this is an A school compared to a B school? Educators don't like that."
The system still does not address the different reasons why schools may have different scores, but sets them up for comparisons that may be be apples to oranges, according to Ryerson.
DESE further breaks down the academic achievement and subgroup achievement standards into four sections based on MAP testing scores for English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. The academic achievement portion of the evaluation focuses on the number of students taking the MAP tests that meet or exceed state standards as well as improvement rates from previous years.
Page 2 of 4 - The college and career readiness section is broken down into ACT/SAT scores/preparation, dual credit/AP courses offered in high school and placement after high school.
School of the Osage
The 2013 APR gave the School of the Osage 100 percent in three of five categories to place the district in a tie for seventh out of 520 school districts statewide. But despite the high score, school officials say they don’t plan to rest on their laurels.
“I am exceptionally proud of our faculty and staff,” Superintendent Brent Depeé said. “However, we cannot rest until we are certain we have done everything possible to meet the learning needs of every student.”
To achieve the 97.5 percent APR rating, Osage earned 136.5 out of 140 points. The largest deduction (2.5 points) was in the area of attendance, especially at Mills Elementary where students were hit particularly hard with the flu last year.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laura Nelson said the results indicate a need to be more systematic, and to be more systematic in professional development and data analysis. To that end, the district is in the process of strategic planning using the Baldridge Model for Performance Excellence.
K-12 Schools tying for seventh along with School of the Osage included Blair Oaks, North Harrison, Webster Groves and Wheatland.
An 87.9 percent score for the Macks Creek R-V School District has Superintendent Josh Phillips already examining methods to improve the district.
The district had near perfect scores in the English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science, but only earned .5 out of a possible 10 in Social Studies.
According to Phillips, the district is "closely evaluating curriculum, in-house assessment practices, instructional strategies, as well as the scheduling of these course offerings."
The district earned 23.5 out of 30 in college and career readiness. Phillips said another area of focus this year will "include techniques to assist students in better preparing for the ACT examination as well as increased assistance in securing post-high school jobs or enrolling in a degree program."
The high/middle school also changed from a schedule that had classes meeting every other day to an eight-period schedule that has classes meeting every day. Phillips said the change adds 20 more hours of instructional time throughout the year.
Morgan County R-II
Despite a good score of 91.4 percent — or 128 of 140 possible points — for Morgan County R-II, Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson says she is not a huge fan of the new system.
Page 3 of 4 - Ryerson addressed her district's weak areas as examples of her concerns. The Versailles-based district did not score as well on college and career readiness and attendance but was one of the best scoring schools in the area on academic achievement, getting 55 of 56 points on MAP testing (they missed one point on English/Language Arts and their subgroups scored perfectly).
As a district overall, Versailles averages an attendance rate of 94 percent or better but only scored 7.5 of 10 points on attendance in the new system. The school is now awarded points on the attendance of each individual child instead of the overall rate. All students are supposed to have a 90 percent attendance rate or better.
"We're asking what can we do to get them here more. We already do home checks. There are kids in high school whose parents say they just won't get out of bed, and our high school principal will go and get them. We do those kinds of things. How much more can we do?" she said.
The district received 21.5 of 30 points in college and career readiness.
The assessment for this category has also changed, according to Ryerson. In the past, DESE looked at all of their course offerings and they got points on the percentage of courses that are dual credit for college and the percent of kids who were enrolled in each of those classes. Now, however, they can only get one point per student. So one student taking multiple dual credit courses is only counted once.
In addition, the school only gets that one point for the one student if he or she scores a B or better. So while a C grade is good enough to count towards a major, it's not good enough to get full point from DESE.
But Morgan County R-II scored well in an area many schools faltered on. The district received a perfect score in the Social Studies
However Ryerson feels about the new system, the school is looking at ways to improve these weak areas.
"We're going to have to tailor things more individually. What motivates one child is not necessarily what will motivate another," she says.
Just .7 percent behind School of the Osage, Camdenton R-II scored a 96.8 percent on the evaluation.
"I think the MSIP 5 gives us a broader snapshot of our school," Superintendent Tim Hadfield said.
The district's biggest issue in the 2013 evaluation was in attendance. The district received 6 out 10 points.
Assistant Superintendent Ryan Neal said that a diverse culture and the lake life make tracking down attendance issues more difficult.
"The poverty rate has a direct tie to attendance," he added. "It's growing, not shrinking."
Page 4 of 4 - In response to the poor score on attendance, Neal said the district plans to gather building leaders, brainstorm and work with parents to pinpoint why students might be absent.
Neal attributed a perfect score in the college and career readiness portion to the interest students show in taking classes at Lake Career and Technical Center.
A score of 91.8 percent pleased Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis.
"I'm happy with our scores being above 90 percent," he said.
According to the evaluation, the district's weaknesses include Social Studies MAP scores (5 out of 12), college and career readiness (26 out of 30) and attendance (7.5 out of 10).
Davis pointed out the district's poverty level as one reason for the lack of college placement.
"If you have to work in high school to help pay rent for your family, college is probably not on your radar," he said.
But Davis does see a recent partnership with State Fair Community College as a way to improve that.
The goal for the district, according to Davis, is to ascend to be one of the top 50 districts in the state.
"Academic performance is one indicator but we want the community to know the other extracurricular activities that our students excel in," Davis said.
—Lake Media’s Eric Dundon, Dan Field, Spree Hilliard and Amy Wilson contributed to this story