Building principals at Union R-XI schools are working to implement strategies to improve the district’s score from the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) annual review.

MSIP began in 1990 and is entering its fifth version. It is the state’s accountability system to review and accredit public school districts.

School districts are evaluated on data such as standardized test scores, attendance, graduation rates, career and college readiness and even where students go after graduation.

Under MSIP 5, districts can earn nine, 12 or 16 points in each category, both in the main student population or in subgroups, such as special education students or students who receive free and reduced lunches.

In the 2011-12 school year, and many years prior, the Union School District has achieved distinction in performance status from MSIP.

But last year, the district received a score of 75.7 under the new MSIP 5 grading system, a score that Supertintendant Steve Bryant said was unsatisfactory and disappointing.

School officials told the board Wednesday night that they, along with teachers, have been examining data and identifying where the students are in regard to state grade and course level expectations. The next step is to develop a plan to move students forward in their learning.

Principals are breaking the data down standard by standard and looking at those areas that aren’t being met.

“When we find that standard that’s not being met we need to look at the type of instruction being used to meet that standard and alter that,” Bryant said.

Doug Cuneo, Union High School principal, said administrators and staff members plan to visit other schools in the area that received high MSIP scores to observe what they might be doing differently.

Teachers are being given more collaboration time in some buildings to work together and compare notes on lessons being used that are successful in teaching students to meet specific state standards, officials said.

Students are then being tested to see if they are grasping the specific concepts.

“What you’re teaching and what you’re testing, has got to jive with what the state is looking for,” said Ron Sohn, board member.

Administrators said part of the challenge is learning how to implement differentiated instruction for a variety of learning styles.

Another hurdle teachers face, the said, are new Missouri learning standards that will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year.

The Missouri Learning Standards define the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in college, other postsecondary training and careers.

The standards include the Common Core State Standards, a set of academic expectations for English language arts and mathematics.

The Missouri Learning Standards will eventually include updated standards in other subject areas, including science, social studies and fine arts.

The Common Core State Standards were created through a state-led initiative and have been adopted by more than 40 states, including Missouri.