Some students dread report cards.
Others look forward to them.
Schools and school districts are no exception, which is why the State of Missouri is raising the bar on its annual performance reports.
With the recent transition to the fifth version of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP 5), the recently released 2013 reports are based on the state's most updated system of accountability.
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the MSIP 5 was approved in 2011, and schools statewide were given two years to prepare for the new system.
According to a press release issued from the department, points are awarded based on performance in the following five areas: academic achievement; subgroup achievement – includes minority students, students with limited proficiency in English, students with disabilities, students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and students receiving special education services; college and career or high school readiness; attendance rate; and graduation rate.
The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) – the well-known end-of-the-year tests given to students from third grade through high school, are used to gauge the performance of students statewide.
These tests play a major role in the MSIP system.
“The MAP scores used to inform the MSIP Annual Performance Reports are taken from from the last three years of tests scores," said Sarah Potter, a spokeswoman for the department. "The MAP program has been around for about 20 years, and we update it every five years. It's a pretty complicated measure if you look at the formula used.
"We've done things like incentivize moving kids from below basic into basic or proficient. We're doing a lot to make sure every individual child is learning instead of just helping those that are almost there."
Potter said the MSIP 5 system is specific in providing information as to the performance of each individual school, rather than reporting performance figures per district. According to the release, the department has spent the last four years "engaged in and solicited meaningful input from students, parents, teachers, school administrators, education organizations and business leaders about the revised accountability system."
Ultimately, the goal of the new system is to prepare students for postsecondary education and his or her respective career.
The final score for each school and school district based on point totals out of points possible, which determines its accreditation level, which include: accredited with distinction: 90 percent and above plus additional criteria set by the State Board; Accredited: greater than or equal to 70 percent; Provisional: 50 percent to 69.9 percent; and Unaccredited: 0 percent to 49.9 percent.
The St. James R-1 School District achieved the level of accredited with distinction with a score of 91.1, earning 127.5 out of 140 possible points.
Superintendent Joy Tucker was satisfied with the score, but admits it could have been better.
Page 2 of 2 - The graduation rate in St. James was 30, which is a competitive score statewide.
Attendance, however, could stand some improvement, she said.
"I would love to get that attendance number up, but the rules have changed," Tucker said. "If they're not here 90 percent of the time, you don't get a point.
We e-mail parent when students are absent and we call parents and we stay on top of tardies. That's something we've hit very hard.
"Obviously if they're not here, it's very difficult for them to learn. At the elementary school, there is an incentive for the kids that are here every day. We want to instill a habit early."
St. James scored 16s in both the math and science categories.
"I applaud them, but I still see room for growth in the areas of math and science," Tucker said. "I would like to see us go up a couple of points at least, but it all takes time. You have to break it down and and figure out why the students aren't getting what we're teaching."
With the state "raising the bar" with the MSIP 5, Tucker says the increased accountability is a good thing, and by no means unfair.
"We're all playing the same golf course," she said. "We're all taking the same test, so at the end of the day, we all have to play by the same rules."
Classification and reclassification based on MSIP 5 is not expected until 2015, as a three-year period is needed "to show long-term, sustained performance trends for districts," according to the release.
The State Board can change a district's accreditation at any time.