Platte County R-3 praises performance improvements, vows to keep getting better

Platte County R-3 officials lauded an improvement in the 2014 results of the Missouri School Improvement Program, fifth cycle (MSIP5), while also pointing the need for improvements in certain areas.During the regular Platte County R-3 Board of Education meeting Oct. 16, assistant superintendent Dr. Michael Brown presented an improvement for 3.5 percent in total score from 2013 to 2014 in the annual academic assessment from Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Platte County scored 132.5 points out of a possible 140 spread across five categories of evaluation.

That’s five points better than 2013 and places Platte County at sixth out of 12 when compared to 11 identified benchmark schools in Missouri, considered similar in size and demographics. The top six are most similar from across the state and the next five closest in the Kansas City Northland.

“Yes, we can compare to the state average. That’s great, but is that really an accurate bar of where we should be?” said Andy Hall, Platte County’s coordinator of data and measurement. “Do we want to compare to the state or compare to people truly like us?”

Platte County scored 52 out of a possible 56 points in academic achievement, which makes up the bulk of the score.

This number comes from student performance on state Missouri Assesment Program/End-of-Course exams (MAP/EOC). All four points lost in the first category were a result of testing in math. Platte County actually gained a ½ point in sub-group achievement, which includes the same evaluations but for various minority, free/reduced lunch program and other special circumstance students, but still garnered only 11 out of 14 points — the lowest percentage for any of the categories.

Platte County’s biggest gain (4½ points) came in college and career readiness, which includes ACT results, Northland Career Center exit exams, dual-credit courses and a follow-up survey to graduates on where they are now. The district recorded its highest ACT composite score ever — a total for all students taking the test — at 22.8, and Hall noted that an increased effort in administering and receiving more complete results from the survey helped push the MSIP5 score in this category up from 25 to 29.5 in one year.

Attendance and graduation rates both received 100 percent of available points.

Brown noted subgroup achievement and math scores overall need to improve. In addition, students showed growth and improvement in social studies and English/language arts to receive full credit in the scores, and officials hope to grow those scores to avoid that need in the future.

“We look at our performance data to get better, and there’s a lot that goes into getting better,” Brown said.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the bus routes for this school year and received updates on statistics related to the district’s transit. Out of 4,017 eligible riders, about 80 percent use bus routes, and 2,843 total students currently ride in the morning and afternoon.

Overall, there are 52 routes — up two this year but staying mostly steady compared to the past five years, which peaked at 54 in 2010-11 — covering 1,561.6 miles daily. That number actually went down from a year ago.

Available capacity filled sits at 73 percent, which is a decrease mostly attributed to adding buses in the Seven Bridges/N Highway area of Platte City to accommodate continued growth in that area. Average ride times remained fairly consistent, although special needs and ESCE routes showed a significant reduction equating to about 30 seconds less spent on the bus per student from a year ago.

“We’ve made a lot of changes since the beginning of the school year – tweaks here, tweaks there – and that happens every year, of course, as enrollment settles in,” said John Byrne, head of the district’s transportation department.

The board also recognized a group of Pathfinder Elementary teachers with its monthly SCHIVIR Me Timbers recognition, given to staff members deemed to be living the values of Platte County’s school district. Stephanie Seigel, Angela McClanahan, Amy Wazac, Brooke Roberts and Heather Schuller were honored for their work in identifying physical difficulties for a student that resulted in diagnosis of a medical condition.

The student recently underwent surgery for the undisclosed issue and expects to make a full recovery, partly due to the efforts of the staff at Pathfinder who encouraged his mother to seek further help. Those in attendance gave a standing ovation to the honorees.