Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Will Hickman Mills Maintain its Accreditation?

By Mary Kay Morrow
Hickman Mills Superintendent Dr. Marge Williams presented disappointing student performance news to a quiet board last Thursday evening.
Preliminary Annual Performance Report (APR) results show the district as having met just 5 of 14 standards by which the state evaluates school districts statewide.  
“That puts the district in Corrective Action - Level 3,” Dr. William said.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is expected to make its recommendation on the district’s accreditation this fall. Typically, accreditation is based on the district’s APR scores. According to DESE’s website, a K-12 district with a score of 5 on the APR would be listed as unaccredited.
School districts have until Sept. 2 to review and correct 2010-11 data that will be reflected in the final APRs, which will be posted by the Department on Sept. 16.  Dr. Williams told the board she expects the district will pick up points in graduation, attendance, and college placement standards when data is final next month.
“We believe that when the data is cleaned up, we will have eight points,” the superintendent told board members.
That would be an improvement of one point over last year’s final score of seven. The district must have a score of at least six to be provisionally accredited.
Having learned earlier this month that Hickman students missed Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, math targets by 37.4% and communication arts targets by 43.5%, the superintendent told the board she believes student testing skills are an issue.
“Our young people lack the skills in how to take tests,” Dr. Williams said.
The APR (essentially a report card for each district) includes MAP results as well as things like graduation and attendance rates, ACT college test results, and college placement.
“APR is where the district receives its accreditation from the state,” Dr. Williams said.
Last year, DESE held off making a recommendation on Hickman Mills’ accreditation while the state worked with the district to make improvements in student achievement. 
“The state (has) agreed to work with us while we continued to show progress,” Dr. Williams explained.
The district did show some slight improvement in MAP scores. In Communication Arts, the district raised proficiency from 30.5% in 2010 to 32% in 2011. In Math, the district increased proficiency from 31.1% in 2010 to 35.1% in 2011. Both figures, however, were some 40% below the state’s targets.
On MAP tests, Burke and Symington Elementary Schools were bright spots, Burke having met both communication arts and math AYP targets, and Symington meeting the math benchmark.
Preliminary APR data shows the district met five state goals:
• MAP mathematics in grades 3-5
• Bonus MAP Achievement, or district growth
• Advanced Course
• Career Ed Course
• Career Ed Placement
ACT scores, tests that measure high school graduates’ readiness for college, fell from 17 to 16.4 percent in Hickman Mills, while both the number and percent of graduates that scored at or above the national average improved.  There were roughly 70 fewer graduates in 2010 than in 2009, 350 vs. 422.
In addition to failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets on MAP tests, first round results show the district missed the mark on state benchmarks for graduation rates after having met them continually since 2005.
Attendance objectives were met.
Dr. Williams said the district has begun to take Level 3 corrective actions, has notified parents of performance results, and will host a fair with tutoring options available for parents.
According to state documents, the school improvement plan will be evaluated, updated and implemented and that parent involvement is an important component of the plan.
Hickman, in Level 3 since 2009, must notify parents of students in failing schools by letter that their school is in need of improvement and make them aware of the school choice options available to them.  The letter should outline how parents can request a transfer to another school.  The state further directs that classroom space and ease of transportation are not valid reasons for making schools unavailable to receive transfer students.
The only reasons choice may not be offered is that no other school with the same grade level is available in the district or no school with the same grade level is making AYP.  If either of these applies, parent letters must include an explanation as to why the district is unable to offer public school choice.
 “We will share additional information individually,” Dr. Williams concluded.
Board members asked no questions and made no comments.
Details are now available on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website at

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