SIKESTON - What students learn today has a bearing on their success in the future.
School districts must continuously assess improvements that are made and need to be made by using various methods, one of which is the Annual Performance Report. And the information it revealed for 2001 shows Sikeston students have improved, rating above average in some subjects.
According to the report, the greatest improvement made in Sikeston Schools was in grades 3-5 and in social studies.
"The APR gives school districts a snapshot of how their students are performing on the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) test," explained Kathy Boldrey, assistant superintendent of curriculum/middle grades. "The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires that our students make continual progress. In other words, our third graders this year need to perform better than our third graders last year. This report will tell us if we met this challenge."
Rather than compare APRs in various districts, the report was designed to compare a district with itself, she explained. The APR looks at four or five years of district test scores. The district earns points by improving each year, regardless of how low or high the original scores were.
Each category, MAP, reading, advanced courses, vocational courses, college placement, vocational placement, dropout, GED and attendance, is worth either seven or nine points. A district either earns all of the possible points or none in each category. If a requirement is missed by one point, no points are received.
Annual improvement is required. "For instance, a district that scored very low on the MAP test last year and improved the next year will show improvement and score well on the APR, while another school may have scored very high the first year and not show as much improvement the following years, therefore, not score very well on the APR and not meet the performance standards," Boldrey pointed out. "This extreme example demonstrates the importance of this high stakes test."
According to the recently released report, the R-6 School District also scored high in advanced courses and also did well in ACT and vocational courses.
"We did very well in vocational placement this year, we earned 12 points out of 12 possible," said Boldrey. "In college placement again we scored in the high range, it shows that 60 percent of our graduates attended post secondary education."
Dr. Larry Bohannon, assistant superintendent of secondary education and staff, believes vocational placement has improved because of the hiring of Michael Harris who places students in work situations appropriate to their training and recruits businesses to accept Sikeston students for employment. Harris also conducts the follow-up necessary to ensure success.
The APR did point out a few areas on which Sikeston Public Schools needs to concentrate. No improvement was seen overall in grades 9-11, resulting in failure to meet the performance standard on the MAP. Nor did SPS meet the performance standard in reading for seventh grade.
But Bohannon insists the Sikeston Public Schools System is working on bringing up those low areas. He pointed out professional development districtwide has concentrated on teaching strategies to improve student learning.
"Administrators have planned additional staff development meetings with their teachers to address needs that are specific to their students using test data from the previous years to identify strengths and weaknesses," he said. Also, he pointed out the curriculum has been aligned to go along with the MAP test to make certain objectives tested have been taught.
A basic skills class concentrating on reading was added to the senior high campus this year and a student MAP team was organized in both the junior and senior high campuses to gather students' ideas on what motivates them to do well on the MAP test and what might motivate their peers to do better.
"We are very pleased with our Annual Performance Report," Boldrey said. "There were 109 points that could be earned on the APR, we earned 91. It takes 81 to meet the performance standards. We are making steady improvement in most areas and our staff is working very hard to continue that trend."
Bohannon and Boldrey, who remarked they can't thank teachers enough for their hard work and dedication, stressed that the entire staff is working toward continual student improvement. They described Sikeston teachers as a "dedicated group of professionals who understands the importance of the MAP test and are eager to try new strategies to help students do well on the test."