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System Analysis

What is the system analysis?

The system analysis is a data-driven review of the current state of the public education system in Kansas City. The term “SYSTEM” refers to the traditional pubic school district (Kansas City Public Schools or KCPS) and charter schools operating within the boundaries of the school district.

We envision that the system analysis will inform and guide collaboration and coordinated decision-making that will result in better outcomes for all students. In the end, we want to ensure all children living within the KCPS boundaries have access to a quality Pre-K through 12 educational experience and graduate ready for college, career and life.

What topics are covered within the system analysis?

The system analysis provides information regarding school options, grade configurations, enrollment trends, student demographics, and academic achievement. It also identifies challenges facing the system such as financial inefficiencies and mobility and retention. View the entire system analysis presentation.

What are the limitations of the system analysis?

The system analysis was completed in the fall of 2018 and shared with the KCPS Board of Directors in December. At that time, the Missouri State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) had not released assessment data for school year 2017-18 (SY18). Therefore, the most recent academic performance results contained within the analysis are from school year 2016-17 (SY17). The SY18 results were made publicly available in February 2019. KCPS is in the process of updating the system analysis and aims to have an updated version by the fall of 2019.

KCPS only has access to student-level data for KCPS students, not for charter school students. Because of this, there are limits to the detailed study of important variables such as specific geographic patterns or academic achievement by race/ethnicity.

System Analysis Highlights

View a printable version of this summary.

  • Despite recent academic gains, only 55% of students attend a fully accredited school.
    The percentage of students attending a fully accredited school rose from 48% in SY15 to 55% in SY17. However, the percentage of students scoring in the Proficient/Advanced categories on state assessments is 19% lower than the state average and lags behind many surrounding school districts.
  • The system is not retaining students, especially in high school grades.
    The system has many school options but lacks strong feeder patterns from Kindergarten through 12th grade. While system enrollment has been growing since SY14 (reversing decades of enrollment loss), the system serves 47% fewer students in 12th grade than at Kindergarten. The system experiences a significant decline in enrollment during high school grades. For example, SY18 12th grade enrollment declined 34% from SY15 9th grade. In addition, more than 25% of student transfers are to other Missouri school districts within the KC metro.
  • High mobility rates within the system impact student achievement.
    The system’s mobility rate is nearly 50% higher than the Missouri state average. Frequent student mobility has a negative impact on ACT scores and graduation rates.
  • Student needs/challenges vary significantly across the system and from school to school.
    The system’s Limited English Proficient (LEP) percentage is more than seven times the Missouri state average. Within the system, most LEP students are concentrated in 1/3 of all schools. The system’s Individual Education Program (IEP) percentage is near the state average, however, individual school IEP percentages range from less than 1% to more than 25%. 
  • The system is becoming more diverse, but schools are becoming more economically and racially segregated.
    While system enrollment remains majority black (57%), Hispanic (27%) and white enrollment (10%) are increasing, creating a more diverse system overall. However, individual schools are becoming more segregated. In SY99, the year before charter schools being established in Kansas City, 49% of the schools were segregated and 9% intensively segregated. By 2017, 78% of schools were segregated and 39% were intensively segregated. And nearly half of all the white students enrolled in public education were concentrated in 1 of 7 schools.
  • Schools are not located where students live.
    Currently, there is no coordinated decision-making or guidelines regarding where new schools are needed or can be established. Half of all public education seats are located in the Central and Southwest portions of the district, yet only 31% of students live in these areas. The Central area has 5,322 more seats than students living in the area, while the Southwest area has 3,650 more seats than students.
  • Economic inefficiencies of the system drive up the cost of administration and operations, leaving less money for instruction and extra-curricular activities.
    A large number of school buildings, with smaller enrollments on average, cause unintended prioritized spending in operational and administrative areas. This includes more resources required for principals and principal support as well as utilities, custodial, and maintenance. Another area of significant spending is transportation. Springfield, MO Public Schools serves approximately the same number of students as the Kansas City system. In SY17, Springfield spent $11.1 million on transportation, while the Kansas City system spent $28.1 million to transport roughly the same number of students across a much smaller geographic area.
  • KCPS and charter schools lack dedicated funding for capital needs.
    KCPS is the only school district in the metro without a debt service levy and has not had a dedicated funding source for capital projects since the desegregation settlement. Also, charter schools cannot issue general obligation bonds and must find alternative sources for capital. KCPS’ deferred maintenance/facility improvement needs total an estimated $450 million (this does not include charter schools’ facility needs as no comprehensive facility assessment has been done for the entire system). KCPS is developing a 10-year general obligation bond plan (requires a debt service levy) that would begin to address capital needs.

Where do we go from here?

KCPS has identified Five KEY OBJECTIVES that are critical for the Kansas City community to achieve in order to begin addressing the challenges of our fragmented public education system. For each objective, we have also proposed several IDEAS or actions that could be taken. These are presented as “ideas” as they will require buy-in from other stakeholders in order to fully implement and achieve. We expect that stakeholder groups will propose revisions/additions to these ideas as we move forward.

Objective #1: Build awareness among key stakeholders about the challenges associated with the fragmented state of the KC public education system

Idea 1.1 KCPS to conduct meetings with local stakeholders to present system analysis data/findings/recommendations to raise awareness and begin discussions regarding opportunities to collaboratively address system challenges

Idea 1.2 KCPS to develop communications materials that clearly lay out the state of the education landscape in KC by summarizing relevant data

Idea 1.3 Conduct annual updates to the system analysis incorporating student and building level data for all schools

Objective #2: Reach consensus among key local and state stakeholders that KC needs a more coordinated, cohesive and sustainable system

(See Ideas 1.1-1.3)

Objective #3: Improve trust between KCPS, charter schools, and local community stakeholders

Idea 3.1 Establish an Ed Collaboration office at KCPS to lead KCPS’ collaboration efforts and charter sponsor duties

Idea 3.2 KCPS/charter schools explore interest in establishing a district/charter collaboration council and reach consensus on critical educational issues that need coordinated, comprehensive strategies

Objective #4: Establish expectations/framework for developing a more coordinated, cohesive system

Idea 4.1 Charter schools/sponsors/KCPS identify a process for sharing best practices

Idea 4.2 KCPS and community stakeholders explore the development of a localized school performance framework (i.e., report card) for KCPS and KC charters

Idea 4.3 Develop and regularly update a comprehensive multiyear plan for all public schools (projected demographic changes, criteria for new school openings or closings, etc.)

Idea 4.4 DESE implement (or local players self-impose) a requirement for KCPS and sponsors to prepare an impact statement before approving any new/expanding schools

Objective #5: Local stakeholders provide cross-sector support/assistance necessary to improve educational outcomes and support the development of a stronger, equitable, sustainable education system (i.e., schools can’t do it alone)

Idea 5.1 Multiple factors impact academic outcomes – health care, housing, public safety, transportation, employment opportunities. Explore interest in developing a network of community stakeholders committed to developing and implementing cross-sector strategies to improve educational outcomes and foster a stronger, equitable, sustainable education system

What has already been accomplished?

  • Began sharing the system analysis with various stakeholders in Kansas City and across the state of Missouri (Idea 1.1)
  • Established KCPS Ed Collaboration Office and a Director of Education Systems (Idea 3.1)
  • Engaged charter leaders regarding interest in a district/charter collaboration council and have received positive feedback thus far (Idea 3.2)
  • Started developing a long-range facilities plan for KCPS (Idea 4.3)
  • Developed a student transportation RFP with an understanding that charter schools could access services under the same terms and conditions as KCPS, provided service to KCPS is not impacted
  • Met with charter leaders to begin conversation and understanding of funding equity concerns
  • KCPS has started to update the system analysis with SY18 assessment results

Would you like more information?

If you would like more information regarding the system analysis, please contact Shannon Jaax, Director of Planning & Real Estate at or 816-418-7567 or Linda Quinley, Chief of Finance and Operations at or 816-418-7771.

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