REPORT: Nine KCPS Elementary Schools Recognized for Helping Students Achieve Academic Achievement


Students in a brightly colored classroom work on a lesson on clipboards.

Pitcher Elementary is one of three KCPS schools recently recognized by the University of St. Louis PRIME Center for helping lagging students make academic progress in English and math.

Three KCPS Elementary Schools – Melcher, Hartman and Pitcher – “beat all the odds” as students make tremendous academic progress in English and math.

It’s the latest from the PRIME Center at Saint Louis University, an education research group that advocates for evidence-based school policies in Missouri.

“This report highlights something we have known for a long time: Our schools can catch up with students who have fallen behind,” said KCPS Director Dr Mark Bedell. “It takes time, but in the right environment our students thrive. And KCPS has more schools on this list than any other district in Missouri.


In “Beating the Odds: Student Growth in Missouri’s High Poverty Schools,” researchers argue that proficiency scores don’t tell the whole story in high-poverty districts like the KCPS. Instead, policymakers should consider growth towards competence, especially in schools where many students start the year far behind their peers.

“School-level results are most often made public as the fraction of students who achieve proficiency or progress scores on these assessments. Results are a useful measure of student achievement at any given time, but fail to adequately communicate how much (or little) students are learning over time, ”the researchers write.

The report was based on an analysis of data from the 2019 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and focused on 256 elementary schools in Missouri with the highest concentrations of poverty. The ranking highlights 46 schools that achieved high PRIME growth scores, of which 15 made big gains in ELA and math. KCPS was the only district with more than one school on the list: Melcher, Hartman, and Pitcher all had high growth scores in both subjects.

Additionally, Border Star, Phillips, Faxon, and Holliday have been recognized for helping students advance in ELA, while Whittier and James have seen strong student growth in math.

“As the data shows, there are many schools with high concentrations of students experiencing poverty that accelerate student learning regardless of their proficiency rate,” the researchers wrote. “It is important for us to learn what is going on in these high growth schools.

Bedell praised the efforts of staff and students at the nine schools highlighted in the PRIME Center report.

“This list includes some of the highest mobility schools in our district,” Bedell said. “We know that if we want students to be successful, we need to tackle poverty, homelessness and trauma. But we know how to teach through these challenges and provide our students with the socio-emotional support they need. “

Bedell said the next step is to ensure that academic growth turns into competence and to ensure that all KCPS schools approach learning with a growth mindset.


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