SIKESTON -- Earlier this month Gov. Bob Holden announced the availability of online report cards for every school in Missouri. And what the public is able to see are the strengths and weaknesses of each school building.
"The information has always been available," said Sikeston R-6 School District Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller. "The only difference is it's disaggregated now as opposed to being aggregated.
He explained: "Before, you saw all of the Sikeston school district. You did not see Matthews attendance. You did not see Lee Hunter. You just saw a combination, and so what the law has done is simply broken it down by school."
The school district report cards include basic information about enrollment, number of teachers, teacher salaries, district financial data, dropout rate, per pupil spending and other key academic and financial data.
"I've always felt we've had a good school system. Our graduates have always performed well in college," Sikeston R-6 School Board President Bill Priday said. "I think the students get a quality education. I had three children graduate from the system. I always felt they were getting a quality education. The system has been strong for a long time."
Parents, teachers and administrators will be able to focus their efforts where it is most needed, Holden said in a recent statement.
For Sikeston, the current need is increasing MAP test scores, Borgsmiller said. There's a lot of pieces of the puzzle that fit together, but this year where Sikeston fell somewhat short was in the performance area of the MAP test, he said. "This past year, or the 2001-2002 school year, what basically came back on our report was that we didn't do well on the performance areas we were tested on the MAP," Borgsmiller said. "We were not proficient in areas where we had been previously. As a result of that, there have been several initiatives on the performance aspect of it."
A lot of people -- Sikeston's teachers, in particular -- recognize that low MAP scores are not acceptable and the staff has been working very hard to correct this, Borgsmiller said.
Sikeston R-6 gives benchmark tests, Borgsmiller said. Items are taken from released MAP tests and students are tested based upon the same testing type and style of questions that they're testing on the MAP. Sikeston tries to familiarize its students with the type of test they're going to take, he explained.
Curriculum is aligned based on the objectives that the teachers and administrators generally know is going to be taught, Borgsmiller noted. Knowing that in of itself -- it's a never-ending job that you now constantly have to be monitoring and managing the curriculum.
"For example, with the No Child Left Behind law, we know there's going to be some changes because of federal testing requirements. So our curriculum is going to have to be tweaked even again to ensure that we are in line teaching those objectives.
He continued: "Again, it's all the pieces of the puzzle, but it all comes back to accountability. As a parent, you send your child to school with the understanding that they're being provided those skills to which they are going to be successful later on in life, and this is part of the process."
Borgsmiller said he wouldn't call last year's low test scores negative to the district. "It is what it is," he said. "The last few years -- up until this year -- we have received our points so we're doing something right. And we're continuing to do something right. It's just fine tuning and we have to constantly look at ways to make sure those children who may not be successful on the MAP test -- for some reason -- do well."
Borgsmiller said a few children can make a remarkable difference in a school's overall test scores. "It's kind of like where they say when you discipline a child, you have to be consistent and firm -- and the hardest part is the consistency," he said. "With this it's no different, we have to be consistent and recognize areas of concern, although sometimes we have to fine tune and constantly update to remain at the status quo."
Neither Borgsmiller or Priday have received any feedback from parents about the online report cards, but both feel some parents will utilize the site.
"Parents who are very interested in their children are going to do the responsible thing and look at a school to see how their child is performing -- and we what them to do," Borgsmiller said. "Then we're going to have those who aren't going to look at the site, for whatever reason."
To view school report cards, visit the state Department of Education's Web site at www.dese.state.mo.us/schooldata.