New DESE Scoring Methods Show SLPS Progress in Growing Individual Students
The first numbers in a new scoring system employed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) were released this week, setting a baseline to measure future progress in educating students. Saint Louis Public Schools (SLPS) scored well in areas measuring individual student growth and providing support for underserved segments of students, while also seeing areas to target for improvement.
The state’s Annual Performance Report (APR) awarded SLPS an “Above Average” rating, the highest given, in student Academic Achievement Growth for students who are historically underserved (student groups which include, Black, Hispanic, Direct Certification, Students with an Individualized Education Plan, & English Language Learners as designated by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education) in both English and math, and the same designation for all students in English.
“This demonstrates that we are making significant progress in helping individual children achieve their goals for advancement over the course of a school year,” said Cheryl VanNoy, Deputy Superintendent of Accountability and Assessment. “The growth category is about meeting individual kids where they are and helping them grow their strengths while discovering new ones. It’s encouraging that we were able to see growth in a year when testing followed months of virtual learning due to the pandemic.”
Overall District Scores in English were in the “approaching” designation which is in the lower half of such rankings. Math scores overall were at the low end of the scale.
“We aren’t where we need to be when looking at overall district scoring, VanNoy said. “But at the same time, circumstances behind this data can provide context. For example, in 2021-2022, third graders who were tested were coming off two “pandemic years” where they had been learning virtually for nearly the entire time. For some, it was like learning to be in school for the first time. They had not been in a traditional classroom environment consistently since kindergarten.”
Some very encouraging news comes in the state’s scoring of SLPS plans to improve all of these outcomes. The District received all possible points, 30 out of 30, for the improvement plan submitted to DESE. That means the state’s experts see SLPS as being on the right road in plans to make improvements across all of these categories. And, the District has been effective in stemming learning loss thanks to targeted programs and support from lawmakers.
Legislation passed back in 2021 funded literacy programs that allowed SLPS to put a reading specialist in every elementary school and attack the “lost learning” from the pandemic aggressively. That showed up in the scoring, particularly with our neediest children. It’s now clear that across the state, not just in SLPS, similar state action focused on math would be beneficial.
The new scoring system DESE has adopted makes comparing this set of results to previous years impossible. DESE has said as much, and reports this only provides them with a third of the data necessary to begin looking at accreditation classifications for school systems.
For SLPS, it provides a roadmap for how to continually improve results for our students, and validation that the plans now in place are the right ones to achieve our goals for students across the District.
St. Louis Post Dispatch article offering a “big picture” view of the DESE numbers
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education School Improvement Program Page