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School Leaders Propose Alternative to Current Student Transfer Law


A group of Missouri education leaders have come together to propose a plan to provide assistance to under-performing schools in Missouri. The leaders were brought together by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA), the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis and the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City in an effort to find an alternative to the current school transfer law that is impacting school districts in the St. Louis area.

“The education leaders were united in their belief that all students matter, all schools matter and all communities matter,” said Roger Kurtz, Executive Director of MASA. “They strongly believe that transferring students out of unaccredited school districts is not in the best interest of all students and will not lead to improvement of unaccredited districts or community revitalization.”

“We believe that the under-performing school buildings should be the focus rather than school districts,” said Don Senti, Executive Director of the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis. “All of the districts that currently are classified as unaccredited have some very high-performing schools within their district. By focusing on the school building, intervention strategies can be employed that are appropriate for the students, school and community.”

The school leaders believe that business as usual must change. They are proposing four levels of accreditation for school districts. At the fully accredited level, no state intervention would occur.

The second level would be provisionally accredited. At this level, a review group of successful practitioners would be assigned to conduct a thorough review of the district and make suggestions for improvement. Students in unaccredited school buildings within a provisionally accredited district would have the option of transferring to other higher performing schools within the district if they exist and have space. If the school does not improve within five years, it is moved to the third level for more intensive interventions.

“It is essential that interventions begin as soon as a district becomes provisionally accredited,” said Gayden Carruth, Executive Director of the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City. “When a school building is identified as under-performing or academically stressed, interventions must begin. The changes selected must be implemented with fidelity and program designs must be research- or evidence-based.”

The proposed third level of accreditation would be “Academically Stressed.” At this level, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would review the district and make changes as needed including the possible removal of the board of education, the superintendent, the principal and teachers in under-performing schools and the possible voiding of all contracts in under-performing schools. The under-performing schools would be assigned to a School Achievement District. Intensive efforts would be made to improve the performance of the school. Once the performance has increased to an acceptable level, the school would be returned to the governance of the local school district.

If the School Achievement District and local school district are unable to demonstrate sustained growth in the overall school district within five years, they move to the fourth level. At this level, the state board may designate the school district as lapsed at which time the students and physical property will be transferred to another local education agency under current Missouri law.

The fundamental goal of the intervention plan is to provide support and resources needed to enable every student to attend a quality school in their own community.

Read the proposal here.

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