REPORT: Nine KCPS Elementary Schools Recognized for Helping Students Make Academic Gains
Three KCPS elementary schools – Melcher, Hartman and Pitcher – are “beating the odds” as students make tremendous academic gains in English language arts and math.
That’s the latest from the Saint Louis University PRiME Center, an education research group that advocates for evidence-backed school policies in Missouri.
“This report underscores something we’ve known for a long time: Our schools can catch up students who’ve fallen behind,” said KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell. “It takes time, but in the right environment, our students thrive. And KCPS has more schools on this list than any other Missouri district.”
In “Beating the Odds: Student Growth in Missouri’s High Poverty Schools,” researchers argue that proficiency scores don’t tell the full story in high-poverty districts like KCPS. Instead, policymakers should look at growth toward proficiency, especially in schools where many students start the year far behind their peers.
“School-level results are most often publicly reported as the fraction of students that earn scores of proficient or advanced on these assessments. The results are a useful measure of student achievement at a single point in time but fail to adequately communicate how much (or little) students learn over time,” the researchers write.
The report was based on an analysis of 2019 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) data and focused on 256 Missouri elementary schools with the highest concentrations of poverty. The rankings spotlight 46 schools that achieved high PRiME Growth Scores, 15 of which made big gains in both ELA and math. KCPS was the only district with more than one school on the list: Melcher, Hartman and Pitcher all had high growth scores in both subjects.
Additionally, Border Star, Phillips, Faxon and Holliday were recognized for helping students make gains in ELA, while Whittier and James had high student growth in math.
“As seen in the data, there are many schools with high concentrations of students in poverty that are accelerating student learning regardless of their proficiency rates,” the researchers wrote. “It is important for us to learn what is happening in these high-growth schools.”
Bedell praised the efforts of staff and students at the nine schools spotlighted in the PRiME Center report.
“This list includes some of the highest mobility schools in our district,” Bedell said. “We know if we want students to succeed, we have to address poverty, homelessness and trauma. But we know how to teach through these challenges and provide our students the social-emotional support they need.”
Bedell said the next step is making sure academic growth turns into proficiency and making sure all KCPS schools approach learning with a growth mindset.