Riverview Gardens closer to shedding unaccredited label
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A St. Louis County school district has shown enough improvement that it might be on a path to drop an unaccredited designation that allows its students to transfer to better performing school systems.
School performance reports released Monday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show Riverview Gardens earning 74.6 percent of the points possible. The state's only other unaccredited district, Normandy, scored 54.6 percent on the report, which measures districts on data such as test scores, and graduation and attendance rates.
While visiting Moline Elementary School in the Riverview Gardens district, Nixon noted the school system's tests scores were 30 points higher than what they were in 2014.
"It's clear that the Riverview Gardens School District is continuing on its path of progress and significant improvement," Nixon said in a statement, adding that he would urge the state's Board of Education next month to grant the district provisional accreditation, which would still provide extra monitoring. He added that "the people of this district — the parents, students, teachers and administrators — are making great strides to build a solid foundation for this community through stronger schools. That progress merits recognition."
Under the state's accreditation system, districts must earn at least 70 percent of overall points to be considered for full accreditation and 50 for provisional accreditation.
Of the two unaccredited districts, only Riverview Gardens, which earned a score of 79.3 percent last year, has surpassed the accreditation threshold for more than one year. The state typically considers multiple years of data before making an accreditation change.
The news is important for Riverview Gardens, because districts that are considered failing, or unaccredited, can face a state takeover and must pay if parents want to move their children to accredited school systems. Last school year, about 1,000 students transferred out of the two districts, costing a combined $10.5 million.
Provisionally accredited districts are subject to extra monitoring.
Riverview Gardens first sought to shed the unaccredited label after faring well last year, but the state's Board of Education delayed action until more data was available. Riverview Gardens' score in 2014 was 45.4 percent.
This year marked the first time Normandy reached the provisionally accredited range after scoring 30.4 percent in 2015 and 7.1 percent in 2014.
Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said in a teleconference that she was "very pleased with the improvements" in the two districts. Although she declined to discuss individual districts' accreditation prospects, an assistant commissioner said over the summer that Riverview Gardens was close to receiving accreditation. The state Board of Education is expected to discuss accreditation in December.
Elsewhere, the Kansas City School District, which regained provisional accreditation in 2014, saw its score increase to 70 percent from 63.9 percent last year. The district said in a news release that it is "hopeful" that the state will award it full accreditation, adding that its students have demonstrated "significant, widespread and sustained improvement."
Districts falling below the 70-percent mark were: Senath-Hornersville C-8, 69.6 percent; Calhoun R-VIII, 66.7 percent; Hickman Mills C-1, 67.9 percent, Hayti R-II, 65 percent; Pemiscot Co. R-III, 59.4 percent; Ripley Co. R-IV, 63.8 percent.
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