Back in Aug. 2012, it was revealed by Chillicothe R-2 Superintendent Dr. Roger Barnes that the Chillicothe R-2 School District had retained accreditation, achieving all 14 of the Annual Performance Report perimeters set forth by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the 2011-12 school year — a perfect score, which would normally merit the awarding of "Distinction in Performance" honors. The district has done this nine times, prior, as well, using the same system.
Fast forward to a bit earlier this month — Jan. 2013. DESE releases to school districts a draft report, plugging the same statistics as in the aforementioned 2011-12 APR into a calculation tool to determine how they will fare when the department's new district performance measuring system (measured in percentage points, rather than via the 14-criterion model) is put into place. R-2's score: an 88.6 percent. A 70 percent or higher means accreditation. A 90 percent or above garners "Distinction in Performance."
In our Tuesday, Jan. 15 edition, we talked about the changes DESE is making in order to reach their goal of a top 10 national education system by the year 2020, via a revamping of their accreditation standards, as well as how the R-2 district's anticipated performance rating (said 88.6), while slightly below "Distinction in Performance" ranking, would still retain their accreditation (and would do so by a wide margin — 18.6 percentage points), as is anticipated, via historical trends, to continue. However, things didn't get too far in-depth, in regards to the specific points that the district both succeeded in and could use work on, per the new and old reports. Today, we will delve a little deeper into both reports to garner some of that insight.
First things first: The R-2 district met 14 of 14 criterion on their old APR. But what are those 14 specific areas, exactly?
Standardized testing plays, and will continue to play, a large role in APR results, to a certain extent. Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing scores for Grades 3-5 Mathematics, Grades 3-5 Communication Arts, Grades 6-8 Mathematics, and Grades 6-8 Communication Arts must exceed 40 status points, 50 status plus progress points, and 40 status plus progress plus bonus points to earn a "met" status in the old APR.
End-of-course (EOC) testing for Algebra I Mathematics and English II Communication Arts must pass the same standards as the standardized testing.
(A surprising point of note is that Science and Government/Social Studies/History subjects appear to be voluntary EOC bonus categories, and, in turn, hold less significance in the attainment of statewide accreditation than the other "core" subjects.)
American College Testing (ACT) scores have their own category in the old APR, as do advanced and career education course trends, college placement numbers, career education placement numbers, graduation rate, attendance rate, and subgroup achievements. A status plus progress score of four (4) must be obtained in order to meet each of these standards.
Now, what did R-2 score on each of these standards for 2011-12?
MAP 3-5 Math — Bonus: Y, Status: 60, Status plus Progress: 90;
MAP 3-5 Communication Arts — Bonus: Y, Status: 48, Status plus Progress: 68;
MAP 6-8 Mathematics — Bonus: blank, Status: 48, Status plus Progress: 68;
MAP 6-8 Communication Arts — Bonus: Y, Status: 48, Status plus Progress: 68;
EOC Algebra I Mathematics — Bonus: Y, Status: 40, Status plus Progress:70;
EOC English II Communication Arts — Bonus: Y, Status: 40, Status plus Progress: 70;
ACT — Status plus Progress: 5;
Advanced Courses — Status plus Progress: 5;
Career Education Courses — Status plus Progress: 8;
College Placement — Status plus Progress: 5;
Career Education Placement — Status plus Progress: 6;
Graduation Rate — Status plus Progress: 4;
Attendance Rate — Status plus Progress: 6;
Subgroup Achievement — Status plus Progress: 4.
Are there any areas in the immediate past where R-2 has struggled, in terms of the DESE standards?
The Chillicothe R-2 School District has received the "Distinction in Performance" honor nine times in the last 11 offered years, meaning they have been essentially perfect in their scores throughout that span. They also achieved a perfect score on their 2011-12 APR, but "Distinction in Performance" was not handed out this year, and will not be until the year 2015, during which time DESE will collect data on their new performance ranking system.
In 2009-10, the district was initially thought to have not met both the graduation rate and Adequate Yearly Progress subgroup (consisting of the economically disadvantaged, special education students, Limited English Proficient students [ELL — English Language Learners], and students from major racial/ethnic groups) measurements, but this was later corrected, and the district received a passing graduation rate, but not a passing subgroup score.
Prior to that, the district had received "Distinction in Performance" in 2008-09, and for the last five years before that, consecutively.
R-2 did not receive "Distinction in Performance" during both the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years, each for failure to meet standards in the no-longer-used category entitled "Reading Index Grade 3."
Per the old scoring rubric, the lowest scores this past year appear in the areas of graduation rate (4) and subgroup achievement (4), where R-2 only met the minimum requirements. Scores also appeared higher in Mathematics testing categories than in the Communication Arts, although that number could be seen as slightly skewed by the impressively overachieving MAP 3-5 Grade Mathematics scores (bonus, 60 status, and 90 status plus progress). High marks in Career Education Courses (8) are also of note.
What changes with DESE's new rubric system, as depicted by the recent draft report?
Instead of focusing upon the 14 points listed before, DESE will now grade school districts in five key categories. Each category will be assigned a percentage of completion (so many points out of a total for each, meaning certain categories are weighted more than others, being assigned more points possible), which will then be averaged to calculate the district's final "total" percent (number of points out of the total possible).
The five categories, in their simplest forms, mimic the bare bones of the prior grading system, but are more consolidated in their presentation, and sway more heavily towards testing scores in the core areas of Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Science.
The categories are?
Academic Achievement (56 points possible), Subgroup Achievement (14 points possible), College and Career Ready/CCR (30 points possible), Attendance (10 points possible), and Graduation Rate (30 points possible).
What did R-2 score in each specific category, and what does that tell us?
R-2's total 2011-12 school year percent came out to 88.6 percent. They scored a total of 124 out of 140 points.
In the area of Academic Achievement, the district received an 82.1 percent, or 46 out of 56 points. In line with what was discovered on this year's actual APR report, Mathematics scores (16/16, or 100 percent) exceeded those of English Language Arts (12/16, or 75 percent). English scores matched up with those of Science (12/16, 75 percent) and Social Studies (6/8, 75 percent [note the lesser importance given, as compared with the other core learning groups, for Social Studies, but the increased importance given to Science scores in comparison]).
The subgroup achievement category was the second-highest percentage total for R-2 in the new report, showing a 13.5/14, or 96.4 percent. English, Mathematics, and Science each recorded perfect scores (4/4), while Social Studies hit 75 percent, with 1.5 points out of the total, two (2).
CCR (25/30, or 83.3 percent) is split into three separate sub-categories:
• CCR 1-3: The percent of graduates scoring at or above the state standard on the ACT®, SAT®, COMPASS® or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). R-2 received a 7.5 out of 10, for 75 percent;
• CCR 4: The percent of graduates who earned a qualifying score on the AP, IB or Technical Skills Attainment (TSA) assessments or a qualifying grade in AP, IB, early college, dual enrollment, or approved dual credit courses. The highest of the CCRs, this recorded a perfect 10/10 possible points for the district;
• and CCR 5-6: The percent of graduates who attend post-secondary education or training, are in the military, or who complete a Department-approved Career Education program and are placed in an occupation directly related to their training by the number of graduates. Also at 7.5 out of 10, this ranked at 75 percent earned.
Attendance rates, which measured out at a six (four minimum) on the old rubric, were given a much more favorable rating for R-2 on the new APR draft — a 9.5 out of 10, for 95 percent.
The most surprising of the results comes when we reach graduation rate. Whereas the district has struggled slightly in the past with meeting the graduation rate requirements set forth by DESE (recall the aforementioned 2009-10 example, as well as this year's four  rating on the original APR), under the new format R-2 received a perfect 30/30, or 100 percent mark.
Weighing the importance of each specific standard criterion in relation to biggest "bang for one's buck," percentage-wise, it could be argued that, moving forward, the district should focus upon upping its testing scores in the areas of English Language Arts and Science to get to their goal of "Distinction in Performance." By earning one point in each of these categories (two, total), they would hit exactly 90 percent, considering none of the other areas were to drop off in performance. Social Studies testing also provides an area where improvement could likely be seen quickly and easily, in both the Academic Achievement and Subgroup Achievement categories. Throw in the possibility for upward movement in the CCR 1-3 and CCR 5-6 categories, and R-2 has several options to choose from in sustaining enough wiggle room to reaching 90.
Check out tomorrow's edition of the Constitution-Tribune for the final part of our breakdown of R-2's accreditation future. Hear Superintendent Dr. Roger Barnes' opinion of what the future holds for the district, as they move towards "Distinction in Performance" under the new DESE system.
— You can follow Drew Van Dyke on Twitter, via his newsroom handle, @Breaking_Drews.