December 17, 2019


Kansas City Education News

Why Getting Kids To Class Is Such A Struggle For Kansas City Public Schools


Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell concedes he’s not sure what it’s going to take to improve attendance. Missouri uses what’s known as the 90/90 rule. Districts need to get 90% of students to school 90% of the time to get all of the attendance points on their Annual Performance Report (APR). KCPS didn’t get any attendance points for the 2018-19 school year because only 73% of students were at school 90% of the time. “In the three years I’ve been here,” said Bedell, who took over the district in 2016, “I have yet to crack 80%.” Bedell calls it a “triple whammy” – if kids don’t come to school, they don’t succeed academically, the district doesn’t get funding and the state penalizes KCPS in accreditation calculations.

Graduation rate of 35 percent? Many foster children ‘robbed of a good education’

By Laura Bauer & Judy Thomas, KC Star

When Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, there were some struggling children it did leave behind. And it would be another 14 years — when that landmark education measure was replaced — before lawmakers would notice the nation’s most at-risk students:  Foster children.  “It’s terribly ironic,” said Phillip Lovell, of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Excellent Education. “These are our children. They are legally our children. The least that we could do is report on their progress in school. We should know it and do something about it.”  Yet two years after the Every Student Succeeds Act required states to tally and report graduation rates of its foster children, the federal government has yet to make that information public.

Missouri Education News

Missouri School Board Wonders How To Help Provisionally Accredited Districts

By Ryan Delaney, St. Louis Public Radio

Only nine of Missouri’s 518 public school districts lack full accreditation from the State Board of Education. But some of those districts have been there year after year, struggling to boost their annual performance metrics high enough to prompt state school board members to bump them up to full accreditation.  The state board accepted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s recommendation to leave all school districts where they are at its monthly meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City. That keeps 509 districts at full accreditation and nine provisionally accredited. No school district is currently unaccredited.

Missouri Parents, Look Up What Your Child’s School Spends Per Student

By Elle Moxley & Brent Jones – KCUR

For the first time, Missouri is reporting how much is spent per child at every school in the state. It’s a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that’s supposed to help ensure equitable access and opportunity for all children. There are many reasons why per-pupil spending levels vary within a district, though. “It could be the programs that are offered at that school, it could be the staff experience at that school,” Missouri Deputy Education Commissioner Roger Dorson said. “The school may have teachers that have a lot of experience and are paid more.”

National Education News

Neighbor states stop paddling disabled students, Alabama schools still swinging away

By Sarah Whites-Koditschek, (Alabama)

Paddling in schools is a stalwart tradition in some parts of Alabama along with Arkansas and Mississippi, the three states that hit the most students nationwide. Yet this year, those other two states outlawed corporal punishment for students with disabilities. Meanwhile in Alabama, hitting special needs kids with a board remains a non-issue, according to Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, who chairs the education policy committee in the Alabama House.  “It has not come up that I remember,” she said. “I really don’t have any knowledge about this issue.” The group, School Superintendents of Alabama, says corporal punishment for disabled students is not a policy priority for them. State Superintendent Eric Mackey did not respond to a request for comment.

Open Enrollment Has Drained One District. It’s Looking to Dissolve

By Daarel Burnette II, Education Week

Palmyra, Wis.

The list of academic and extracurricular offerings at the Palmyra-Eagle school district in Wisconsin are seemingly endless. Agriculture, woodshop, and metal classes. Eight AP courses. A marching band, theater program, and robotics club. Football and equestrian teams with recent state championships. The 600-student district is also on the brink of bankruptcy and now wants to dissolve. Over the course of less than a decade, hundreds of parents in this mostly rural community took advantage of Wisconsin’s unwieldy interdistrict open enrollment policy and decided to send their children to Milwaukee suburban schools just a handful of miles up the road. The sudden shift sent its finances into a tailspin and made the district a cautionary tale for policymakers across the nation eyeing open enrollment as a school choice option.

How Much Should Teachers Talk in the Classroom? Much Less, Some Say

By Cahterine Gewertz, Education Week

If you carried a stopwatch into your district’s schools and sat quietly in various classrooms for a week, timing how much teachers talk and how much students talk, what would you find? Are lessons dominated by teachers talking? Do students have a robust role in discussing what they’re learning? Or are they mostly answering procedural or factual questions? Are teachers consciously monitoring how much they talk? Should they be? Research and front-line teacher experience suggest they should be. And some teachers are using new tools like apps on their phones to help them reflect on their classroom talk habits.


1 in 7 Students Report Having Seriously Considered Suicide, Survey Finds

By Arianna Prothero, Education Week

One in seven students between the ages of 10 and 18 report they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months prior to taking an online survey, a new analysis shows. But for students who are in special education and those who do not identify as either male or female, those numbers were even higher. Twenty-two percent of special education students report having seriously considered attempting suicide while 21 percent of students who do not identify has either male or female said they had seriously contemplated taking their own lives in the year prior to responding to the survey. The numbers come from YouthTruth, a nonprofit group that surveys students. For this particular analysis, YouthTruth polled 70,000 students in grades 5-12 from public schools in 18 states. The surveys took place online between 2012 and 2019.