A new ratings system to be rolled out for Missouri’s schools would drop the Parkway School District from achieving a perfect score like it has in previous years, but it represents opportunities along with challenges for educators.
In general, the idea behind the new rating system is to give district’s far more specifics on how they are performing. The previous system used 14 standards to measure a district’s accomplishment while the new one issues grades across a 140-point scale.
The result is that even the highest-performing districts, such as Parkway, will face increased scrutiny as they try to measure up to the new system. Still, Parkway’s Coordinator of Student Assessment Kevin Beckner told Patch he sees some positives.
“It’s going to be useful because it can give us more specific information about where we need to put our attention and focus,” said Beckner.
To give districts an idea of how it will work when it’s implemented this spring, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (known to educators as DESE) created drafts that plugged old achievement data into the new system.
In the past, districts either meet one of the 14 standards or they didn’t, but Beckner says the new ratings will allow for earning partial points, which is also helps districts be more targeted in their focus. Districts are issued a percentage based on the number of points they earned out of the total possible.
In the most recent year, this meant Parkway scored 98.6 percent and Beckner said the only category where they failed to get the full amount of points was student attendance. This drew the attention of Beckner and his colleagues.
“We always want to be looking at what we can do better, what we can improve,” he said.
Other major changes include adjustments to make the scale weighted. In the past, each of the 14 standards counted equally and included things like the number of students who took AP classes. Now, more than half of the percent come from academic achievement.
Beckner said it’s hard to characterize how much of positive or negative impact the new ratings system will have. For now, he and others at Parkway have just been focused studying it to understand how the district will be measured going forward.
Further Reading: For more information on how the system might impact the area’s poorer performing schools and how it’s tied to a district’s accreditation status, check out this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.