By Mary Kay Morrow
The Hickman Mills C-1 School District is being given another year before its accreditation status is officially decided by the Missouri Board of Education.
Tony Stansberry, a Supervisor for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), told the Hickman Mills C-1 School Board on December 16 that the extra year will give the district and state time to implement its Accountability Plan and continue making progress.
“If we were to go to the state board now with your APR – seven standards met - you would be in the provisional category,” Stansberry said. “But I’ve gotta tell you, it’s all about kids, and as long as we feel progress is being made to help them achieve, we’re going to work with you. We know you can’t turn around a school district in 15 months. You’re not there yet, but you’re making some progress.”
School Superintendent Dr. Marge Williams invited Stansberry so administrators and the board could hear directly from the DESE Supervisor on the district’s Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) progress and its accreditation status.
Accreditation decisions are made based primarily on an Annual Performance Review (APR) that is part of MSIP. To be fully accredited, a school district must meet at least nine of 14 APR standards. To be provisionally accredited, schools must meet at least six. A district that meets five or fewer standards may be classified as unaccredited.
“When we started off last year, you’d only achieved six (of 14) standards and you’d achieved none of the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) standards,” Stansberry told the school board. “This year you moved from six to seven standards. That also means you moved from ‘unaccredited’ to ‘provisional’ this year. You weren’t there before. That’s a plus.
“You’ve also increased in the MAP area. That allowed you to achieve what’s called the Bonus MAP Achievement Standard because you exceeded your scores from the previous year.
“You also achieved a couple of GAP points which means that your ‘free and reduced lunch’ students and/or your minority students exceeded the state majority in the score improvements made.”
Due to a change in cycle timing and a number of other progress factors, DESE is going to wait a year before taking a recommendation to the Missouri Board of Education regarding Hickman’s accreditation. Normally, accreditation decisions would have been made at the end of the fourth cycle - that was supposed to have been this year. A change in the timing of the MSIP review cycles moved the fifth cycle into next year.
“The plan at DESE is to give you this school year to continue the work that you’ve started and you probably will go before the state board in November of next year,” Stansberry said. “We decided the districts that had had the full reviews and shown that they were making progress, we would work with them some more before going to the state board of education with [an accreditation] recommendation.”
When APR report cards came out last October, Dr. Williams predicted that with changes being made in the district, Hickman Mills would be able to bump its APR score up from seven points this year to 11 next year – well within the accredited range.
“Where other districts are picking up points is in the areas of academics like math and communication arts,” Dr. Williams said at that time. “We’re moving, and when we receive our points in those content areas, I believe we will have at least 11 points.”
Stansberry said he believes the rubber meets the road in the classroom and is willing to pull for districts that show a willingness to work hard and show progress.
“What I’ve seen in this effort that we’ve made here with your [Accountability] Plan is that you have some focus,” Stansberry said. “Overall, consistently, we’ve seen improvement.”
DESE feels Hickman has a relevant plan and has shown good progress during quarterly reviews towards implementing it over the past 15 months.
“You’ve worked very hard to put together an Accountability Plan, implemented the plan, adjusted where needed along the way, and took the process seriously,” Stansberry said.
Stansberry said the state looks at things and says, ‘You know, things aren’t where we want them to be yet in the school district, but the district took the review seriously, and they followed up in a fashion that showed us that there was substantial progress being made.’
In closing, Stansberry congratulated the district for the positive work done and challenged the district to keep going to achieve some additional performance standards. Noting the C-1’s proud heritage Stansberry encouraged the Hickman community to “keep up the good work.”