District nationally recognized with "What Parents Want" award

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | 3:55 p.m. CDT; updated 5:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 1, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public School district was recently nationally recognized in the SchoolMatch “What Parents Want” program. SchoolMatch is an Ohio-based company that ranks schools based on factors that the company identifies as important for the success of schools.

Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for Columbia Public Schools, said SchoolMatch evaluates districts based on criteria such as academic test scores, teacher salaries, how money is spent for media services and class size. The company also compiles questionnaires from parents, Baumstark said.

What do parents want?

Based on parent questionnaires taken from around the nation in 2009, SchoolMatch's says that parents look for school systems that are:

  • Competitive in academic test scores and academically solid, but not so rigorous as to intimidate their children.
  • Accredited.
  • Recognized for excellence by a national foundation or by the United States Department of Education.
  • Competitive in teacher salaries.
  • Above average in instructional expenditures on a national percentile basis.
  • Above average in expenditures for library and media services on a national percentile basis.
  • Known for small class size.

There were 28 Missouri school districts recognized this year. Baumstark said the school district was notified by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at the end of May.

“It’s interesting,” Superintendent Chris Belcher said of the award. “This is a group that independently gives people a gauge of what communities offer.”

Belcher said the award shows that the district is friendly and accessible to parents and students. “That is exactly what I want the school district to be like,” he said.

Only about 16 percent of public school districts in the United States meet the “What Parents Want” award expectations, Baumstark said.


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