Carthage administrators were happy with some results and disappointed with others when the Annual Performance Report for all Missouri schools was released last week.

Carthage administrators were happy with some results and disappointed with others when the Annual Performance Report for all Missouri schools was released last week.

Under a new scoring regime instituted with what is called the Missouri School Improvement Program 5, or MSIP 5, Carthage received 119 of 140 possible points, or 85 percent, which was well above the 70 percent threshold for accreditation, but a little below the 90 percent needed for accreditation with distinction.

Carthage scored higher than the Joplin school district, which scored 78.6 percent on its Annual Performance Review, and Sarcoxie, which scored a 75.4 percent, and a little below Webb City, which scored 87.5 percent, Jasper, which scored 90.7 percent and Carl Junction, which scored 94.3 percent.

Deborah Swarens, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the district saw room for improvement in the coming years.

“We're pleased, we know we can do better, we're getting better every year,” Swarens said. “We're at the upper end of that being accredited, we're very close to reaching 90 percent or above and we see that in our future over time.”

Bridging the gaps
Swarens said all schools in Missouri are operating under a new scoring and evaluation method.

“We've been getting an APR every year about this time for years, but that's been based on a system of 14 points,” Swarens said. “The new system, we refer to it as MSIP 5, is now based on 140 points and they have, the state department of education has developed cut scores in terms of that 140 points.”

Dr. Chris Nicastro, Missouri Commissioner of Education, said statewide, the results of the Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP testing, showed “mixed results in student achievement with Communication Arts holding steady and math dipping slightly.”

“We were please to see biology scores improving dramatically, and we commend our schools and science teachers for their hard work,” Nicastro said in a statement. “We are disappointed in the results showing the widening achievement gap for minorities especially for African Americans in the state. We must work together in local communities and across the state to help all of our children succeed. This gap is absolutely unacceptable.”

Swarens said there is a gap between the performance of white students and the performance of students in different subgroups, such as black students, Hispanic students, students who are learning the English language, students with individualized education programs and students who qualify for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches.

Swarens said the state is looking for evidence that the district is working to close the gap in performance between students in the subgroups and the majority students.

“And our district has gaps, so they're watching to make sure the gaps are not getting bigger year after year, that they're getting smaller,” Swarens said. “And that doesn't happen by accident, that happens by design.”

Strengths and weaknesses
Swarens said the district's scores were strong in English Language Arts and math, but the district's subgroups struggled with science and social studies.

She said the district was using a program called Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, or SIOP, to help students, especially those learning the English language, to learn better.

“We're going to continue that effort, we're just going to try to hone in on those two disciplines,” Swarens said. “And see if in those content areas, are the resources we're using for those Hispanic and ELL students, are they sufficient?”

Swarens said the district has to evaluate the information from the Annual Performance Review, share the information with the individual schools and help teachers develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

“Now the work starts in disseminating the data to every school so they can begin working with their teachers finding the strengths and the weaknesses and then working on their building improvement plans,” Swarens said. “Every school has one, seeing what needs to be added or revised, and then they're constantly monitoring those plans. We have so many diagnostic tools, formative assessments that we try to use throughout the year, that help us predict what's happening.

“I'm going to tell you, I'm not ashamed of that 85 percent, not at all. I think that that is an indicator that we're doing a lot of things very right, our teachers are working very diligently, and they love what they do, and they believe in what they do. The families too, we have great families and great family support in this district. It makes all the difference in the world.”