By Kavahn Mansouri
Missourian Staff Writer
The Union R-XI administration is looking for ways to improve academic success on state test scores after annual test results showed little growth throughout the district.
The school board received a first look at the district’s Missouri School Improvement Program 5 (MSIP) 5 Annual Performance Report (APR) score Wednesday night.
The district earned an 80 percent APR rating overall, the same percentage earned last year.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Scott Hayes said while it may look like a plateau, the district did have improvements in its academic achievement standard, seeing a boost from 58.9 percent earned in 2015-2016, to a 67.9 percent score this year.
MSIP 5 measures students with five standards, including academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college/career readiness, attendance and graduation rates.
Hayes noted that the district is at the start of a long-term plan to boost academics in the district.
“We’re building our foundation. To be honest, there’s no reason Union R-XI can’t be an academic powerhouse,” Hayes said.
Subgroups include students in the free and reduced lunch program and students with disabilities.
Only the high school is tested in all five areas. The other buildings are assessed in academic and subgroup achievement and attendance.
Academic performance is just one aspect the state evaluates in the overall score, Hayes said.
The scoring system rewards districts for showing improvements, such as how much an individual student improves his or her academics year to year.
In the four academic achievement subjects — English and language arts, science, social studies and math — the district was either approaching its targeted score, or already on target.
However, in other areas, or standards as they are called by the state, Union saw slight decreases. Attendance dropped below the district goal of 90 percent hurting the district’s overall score, subgroup achievement decreased slightly and college readiness suffered.
Hayes said the road to improving the areas that were holding the district’s average back, like academic achievement and subgroup achievement, will be easier traveled with a new curriculum coordinating council at Union.
The council, which is in its early days, will include representatives from around the district community, and will work as a compass for the administration’s work in improving academics and test scores.
“We’re focusing on our academic achievement and making them a priority in what we do on a daily basis,” Hayes said. “Through the council and establishing that system we’ll be able to better hold all sides accountable.”
Hayes said the council will be a strong step toward raising academics at the school district. He said the work is paramount to the success of Union students and that the work is being done with their education in mind.
“The biggest part we’re looking at is our scores are lower than of anyone around. We have a proud community and our community deserves the best,” Hayes said. “Our teachers work really hard and our kids work hard. So we want to take a step back and look at what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching it. That’s our big variable.”
MSIP 5 reports specific to schools will be made available in December.