St. Louis City Schools

The MSIP5 Scoop for City Parents

Well, the MSIP5 results are in. There are a lot of numbers to crunch and some misinformation to wade through, but we’re here to help.
Overall, the city education landscape is improving, and some of the best performing schools in the region are right here in our own backyards.

Before the results, some disclaimers:

There are many misconceptions about how school accreditation and the Annual Performance Report (APR) in Missouri work. Whereas many think these numbers are a pure reflection of teaching and learning, they are in fact calculated with many criteria in mind. Districts earn points (typically up to 140) based on the status, progress and growth of five standards. DESE calculates a district’s percentage based on a variety of data and reporting measures within each standard. They are as follows:

  • Academic achievement: Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End-of-Course (EOC) testing and growth data.
  • Subgroup achievement (includes minority students, students with limited proficiency in English, students with disabilities, students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and students receiving special education services): * MAP and EOC testing and growth data.
  • College and career readiness: Student participation in and performance on college entrance exams, such as ACT and SAT; percentage of students who earn college credit through options such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and dual credit courses; percent of graduates who attend post-secondary education or military training within six months of graduating.
  • Attendance rate: Attendance data based on pre-determined attendance goals.
  • Graduation rate: The percent of students who complete an education program that meets graduation requirements.

Academic achievement does account for the most points; however, this means that a school could perform well on all academic measures but lose points due to low attendance or a high drop out rate—areas where schools often have less control. For example, a school that offers bus service may have better attendance data than a school that does not. On the reverse end, it means that some schools have higher scores, not because they are better academically but because they invest more into attendance reporting, technical training courses and high school completion. Of course, there is a lot of debate that can be had about the authenticity of the testing data and the challenges of urban schools, but let’s get to the numbers.

Here’s how we did:

Top Performers in Early Childhood
Top Performers in Elementary
Top Performers in Middle and High School

Some important points:

  1. It is crucial to look at school-by-school comparisons, not district-by-district. For example, although Kirkwood is one of the top performing districts in St. Louis and SLPS one of the lowest, three SLPS high schools outperformed Kirkwood High School, which had a score of 88.9%.
  2. If you solely follow traditional media, you may only hear about some of the top performing schools in the city. Most urban parents know that City Garden Montessori has had a lot of success, yet many probably haven’t heard about the Northside Community School. And although Kennard gets a lot of attention, Buder just down the street has earned a pretty strong rating itself.
  3. Although SLPS is still at risk of losing accreditation, it has seen the largest increase of any district in Missouri—almost 20 percentage points. On the flip side, many wealthy districts have declined in percentages. Growth can be just as important as the final rating. A school that can improve student performance (rather than just maintain it at a constant level) could be a sign of strong teaching, curriculum and/or leadership.
  4. You don’t have to leave the city for “better schools.” Many schools in the city perform on par or better than the most lauded schools in the suburbs, where housing prices can be barrier for many families. The city offers the opportunity to send your child to a great school no matter which neighborhood you live in.
  5. This should only be one consideration in choosing a school. You want to make choices that reflect your educational values and beliefs. For example, the best performing schools (in both the city and county) are sometimes the ones that focus most on test prep and rote learning. Or, the diversity that is so important to you and your child’s development might create barriers to top test scores. Visit schools, ask questions and use our guide to find reviews and additional information!
Further Reading:

Amber Murphy is a guide to schools in the city of Saint Louis; made for parents, by parents.

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