Aurora, Miller, Mt. Vernon school districts learn results of new DESE testing

Kaleena Ricketts

System gives more thorough information relative to state performance, past school performance
Recently, schools throughout Missouri were given their results of the 2019 Annual Performance Reports from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Local school districts, Mt. Vernon R-5, Miller R-2 and Aurora R-8, all scored well on their evaluations, although each district held room for improvement in differing categories.
The test is evaluated by the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP5), the state’s accountability system for accrediting and reviewing public school districts.
Areas of strength within the Aurora School District, included scores for advanced placement, graduation rates and attendance rates, all coming in at or above state averages. Receiving an “on track” status were scores for College and Career Readiness, as well as individual student growth expectations, for total population and subgroup populations in both English language arts and math.
Unfortunately, overall the district fell short in the state averages for ELA and math, with only fourth grade scores being above state averages. Multiple other grades were close, but were not able to exceed state averages. Aurora Assistant Superintendent David Mais sees this as an opportunity for growth for the Aurora School District.
“This opportunity tells me we have work to do in many areas, including closing the early childhood/kindergarten readiness gap that was assessed; thoroughly vetting each program, and continuing to track student progress using standardized benchmark assessments in order to make instructional decisions in a timely manner to meet the needs of each learner,” Mais said.
While the Miller School District received a 94.1 percent on the 2018 Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Annual Performance Report, which was the highest score the Miller R-II School District had earned since the implementation of MSIP by the department in 2013, the DESE is using a new format to report data, and school districts did not receive an overall performance score in the 2019 report. (DESE is currently using a rubric as each district’s performance report and is no longer using percentages.)
 However, in the 2019 APR, Miller received an increased score of 16 points in English language arts and an increased score of 16 points in mathematics compared to the 2018 scores. In the area of Subgroup Achievement in Communication Arts and Mathematics, the Miller R-II School District scored above the state average, which the school district would like to see built upon for the 2019- 20 school year.
“It continues to be the focus of the Miller R-II School District Board of Education, School Administration, teachers, staff, and community to provide the best possible educational opportunities for the students of the Miller R-II School District,” said Superintendent Dr. Dustin Storm. “Our passion is to make a difference for our students each and every day and prepare our students for the workforce, college or post-secondary education.”
While Miller received mostly glowing scores on the recent evaluation, it was also noted that an area of growth and additional focus needs to be made in the College and Career Readiness Assessment. However, the Miller R-II School District received high marks in the areas of College and Career Readiness Advanced Placement, College and Career Readiness Postsecondary Placement, Attendance, and Graduation Rate.
The Mt. Vernon School District scored well in multiple areas of the evaluation, but would also like to see improvement in others.
The district continues to excel in the area of College and Career Readiness, which is highly reflected in the schools ACT report, and shows that, for the first time since 2015, composite ACT scores are above state average. Student attendance is also above the state average, alongside scores for English language arts in grades 5-8, ranking right at or above the state average.
“As we transition into what we hope to improve, we can celebrate that the gap between performance and state average is not significant - and all are already addressed in our CSIP Plan,” said Mt. Vernon Superintendent Scott Cook.
“Although ELA scores are above the state average, we have seen a gradual decline in recent years. Rather than become complacent, with the help of our teachers, we have identified areas for improvement in ELA curriculum,”: added Cook. “There is an action plan for improving vertical alignment in all four core subjects ensuring we are spending the right amount of time on each topic. Additionally, we have plans for a more comprehensive approach to analyzing test information from assessments helping to address weaknesses.”
The 2019 Annual Performance Report does not include Science or Social Studies data. Districts anticipate the Science data being released in the next few weeks, while they will not be receiving any data from Social Studies in the 2019 Annual Performance Report.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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