Thumbs up for Columbia Public Schools

The district fares well in all but one category: the dropout rate.
Sunday, November 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:21 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Columbia Public School district is performing up to standard.

The state education department released its yearly performance reports for every school in the state Monday.

According to this year’s summary, Columbia Public Schools have met state requisites for performance in 11 of 12 categories. Schools are awarded points in areas including performance on MAP and ACT tests, attendance rates and college placement.

This year, the district scored 91 out of 100 possible points. The minimum number of points required for accreditation is 66, according to Becky Kemna, coordinator for the DESE Missouri School Improvement Program.

The district did not receive any points in the report’s “dropout” category.

Schools were awarded 12 points if their dropout rate was below three percent. They received three points for each year the rate decreased by 0.5 percent or more from the previous year, in the past five years. They were awarded nine points if their dropout rate was below four percent.

With a 4.4 percent total dropout rate, the district was ineligible to receive any points in the dropout category.

In 2000, the dropout rate was 6.1 percent. It declined to 4.8 percent in 2001, 4.5 in 2002, and 4.3 in 2003.

“We were very pleased with our progress,” said Dr. Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “We’re disappointed that we did not meet standards regarding dropout rates, but our dropout rate has declined over the years, and in a district our size, it’s hard to get that percentage to go down.”

To address the dropout rate, the district offers class credit recovery programs, GED classes and online courses for students at risk of dropping out, Cozette said.

“The way this is all calculated doesn’t necessarily give us credit for the progress we’ve made,” Cozette said. “We’re pleased with our progress, but not satisfied with our progress.”

“Every student we keep from dropping out is a success, and we’ve met success in all our high schools,” Cozette said. “It’s just not reflected in our scores.”

The annual performance report is one of the indicators used in a district’s MSIP review. School districts that meet particular criteria based on their annual performance reports receive a one-year waiver of the MSIP review, which normally takes place every five years.

If a district meets the waiver criteria, it can continue to be waived year after year, Kemna said.

The Columbia district received its last waiver in 2003. The district’s last MSIP review was held during the 1999-2000 school year. Columbia Public Schools were scheduled for MSIP review this school year, but are eligible to renew their 2003 waiver, Kemna said.

To qualify for a one-year waiver, a district must meet several criteria based on its last four annual performance reports, Kemna said. Qualifying districts must score 66 or more performance points on three of their last four performance reviews, including their latest review; they must achieve two out of three MAP standards and three out of four career preparation standards on the review; and they must demonstrate improvement in closing achievement gaps for minority groups that include 20 or more students.

Districts can meet waiver criteria by either demonstrating high achievement or continued improvement, Kemna said.

Districts that qualify for the waiver still undergo a mini-review with their DESE area supervisor each year, to verify compliance with state and federal requirements, Kemna said.

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