State Education Board to consider full accreditation for KCPS

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The Kansas City Public School District (KCPS) 33 has the opportunity to receive accreditation from the Missouri Department of Education next week.

On January 11, at the Missouri State Board of Education meeting, consideration of classifying school districts under the Missouri School Improvement Program 5 (MSIP5) appears on the agenda. According to the agenda, the Department recommends that the Board classify the Kansas City 33 School District as accredited.

“KCPS is very aware that we are on the State Board of Education agenda next week for full accreditation,” said Kelly Wachel, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for KCPS. “We are eager for the State Board’s conversation during their meeting, and we very much look forward to sharing more news after their meeting. This is a promising time for KCPS.”

On May 1, 2000, KCPS became the first district in the nation to lose accreditation. On September 20, 2011, the Missouri Board of Education voted unanimously to withdraw the district’s accreditation status, effective January 1, 2012. The district regained provisional accreditation in 2014.

In November 2016, the district announced it had received a high enough score on state accountability measures for the State Board of Education to consider full accreditation, but the State wanted to see sustained progress.

The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) assessments were canceled in Spring 2020 as a result of COVID-19, and the board approved suspending the use of the 2021 MAP results from state and federal accountability due to the impact of COVID-19. As a result, data in Annual Performance Reports were not presented in their traditional form for the school year 2019-21 and 2020-21, and other factors are considered.

“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education traditionally uses and makes recommendations for the classification status of school districts based on reviews of each district’s Annual Performance Report (APR) supporting data for the three most recent APRs,” a MSIP report scheduled for Jan. 11, 2022 read. “Other considerations used for classification may include Comprehensive School Improvement Plan goals, previous MSIP findings, financial status, leadership stability, legal compliance, certification of the superintendent, etc. A district’s accreditation classification remains in effect until the State Board of Education (Board) rules otherwise.”

After regaining provisional accreditation in the 2014–2015 school year, KCPS had 13 schools that met the state standard for full accreditation, and another eight which met the standard for provisional accreditation. The district has maintained provisional accreditation since 2014, and many KCPS schools are individually accredited.

Dr. Mark T. Bedell joined Kansas City Public Schools as Superintendent on July 1, 2016. It has been a priority for Superintendent Bedell to regain accreditation, as he has worked to raise attendance and graduation rates across the district.

In 2019, KCPS students exceeded the state’s expectations for academic growth in English Language Arts. In 2021, KCPS students exceeded the state’s expectations for academic growth in math despite the COVID-19 pandemic – state tests were not administered in spring 2020.

KCPS has improved its four-year graduation rate from 68.7% in 2016 to 77.8% in 2021, and has increased the number of high school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and test scores.

KCPS has been an active participant in DESE’s Regional School Improvement Team (RSIT) process, helping to improve the district’s utilization of data to improve curriculum, instruction, professional development and systems. DESE noted that leadership has stabilized under Superintendent Mark Bedell and the current school board. 

KCPS supports early childhood education, social emotional learning, academic growth toward proficiency and readiness for college and careers. The District offers Real World Learning at all schools, including 12 career and technical education pathways at Manual Career & Technical Center. KCPS also connects students with college credit, paid internships, local businesses and scholarship money. 

The school district, which was founded in 1867, is bordered on the west by the Kansas/Missouri border line and on the east by the Independence and Raytown school districts. It is bordered on the north by the Missouri River. It is bordered on the south by the Hickman Mills school district and, at approximately 85th Street, by the Center School District.

KCPS serves a diverse student body. The district currently has 13,343 students enrolled, and of those 54% are Black, 28% are Hispanic and 10% are white. Approximately 3,700 are English Language Learners (ELL) and many others are still building English proficiency. One hundred percent of KCPS students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MoDESE) and Commissioner Margie Vandeven have recommended full accreditation for KCPS, but the State Board still must vote. The State Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 at 8:30 a.m. in the State Board of Education Meeting Room at 205 Jefferson Street, 1st Floor, Jefferson City, Mo. The public may watch the meeting livestream at https://livestream.com/MoDESE/SBE.

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