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Vol. 46, No. 74
October 16, 2012

State Board Reclassifies St. Louis Public Schools Provisionally Accredited

Board of Education approves recommendation for provisional accreditation of SLPS District

After discussion ending in a unanimous vote, the State Board of Education approved a recommendation to reclassify the St. Louis Public School (SLPS) District as provisionally accredited under the 4th Cycle of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff recommended provisional accreditation after a thorough analysis of multiple years of data and indications of district-wide improvements over the past five years.

“The St. Louis Public Schools is not there yet,” said state board member Mike Jones of St. Louis. “But the District is setting up the systems it needs to help students achieve at higher levels, and we should recognize that.”

The St. Louis Special Administrative Board (SAB) requested the State Board of Education to reclassify the District as provisionally accredited after it met seven out of 14 state standards on its 2012 Annual Performance Report (APR). Under MSIP 4, the provisionally accredited range is six to eight points with one MAP standard met, and SLPS met its Algebra I MAP standard for 2012. The District has increased the number of standards met on its APR for three consecutive years, reaching provisional accreditation status this year.

“This District – like every other struggling district – is going to get close attention paid by the Board because that is our responsibility to the kids,” said Board President Peter Herschend.

The St. Louis Public Schools has been designated a Transitional District by the State Board of Education. This designation remains in place. Under the Transitional District, the governance of the District is vested in an appointed Special Administrative Board.

“The governance structure and stability in District leadership have been critical elements of the progress we're seeing,” said State Board Vice President Rev. Stan Archie of Kansas City. “It's clear that this intervention has proven effective in launching significant improvement."

The State Board voted to classify the District as unaccredited in 2007, citing declining academic performance, precarious finances and leadership in turmoil. The three members of the SAB were chosen by the Governor of Missouri, the St. Louis Mayor and the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Department staff credited the SAB-superintendent leadership team with uniting the community in a focus on improving student performance. While more progress is needed, Department staff reported that institutional improvements are under way. Staff cited substantial improvements in several areas including: coordinating systems with stable leadership; alignment in curriculum, assessment, instructional and professional development; installation of a comprehensive data system; comprehensive guidance and counseling programs; federal compliance; and financial management. Department staff reported substantial progress in the District but cautioned that there is still room for improvement in these areas.

"While no one would begin to make a case that SLPS has reached expectations, they have demonstrated improvement in the past five years,” said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. “While we applaud the efforts of the entire SLPS community, we caution everyone to keep working. The children of St. Louis deserve a district that is fully accredited.”

The 4th Cycle of MSIP, the state’s accountability system, has ended, and the state is entering its 5th version of MSIP this school year. MSIP 5 takes a more comprehensive view of each school district by using three years of data and multiple measures of data for accreditation. The new MSIP measures encourage districts to focus on continuous growth and improvement for all students to graduate college and career ready. With MSIP 5, most districts won’t see a classification change until 2015, but the State Board of Education has the authority to reclassify a school district at any time.