As of Jan.1, the Kansas City Missouri (KCMO) School District has lost its accreditation for the second time in 11 years. The last time the KCMO School District lost its accreditation was in 2000 because of its failure to meet the minimal academic performance standards of the state. In 2002, KCMO schools were able to make improvements to gain the district provisional accreditation and avoid a state takeover. According to MSNBC, the district has maintained only this provisional accreditation for nearly a decade.
The State of Missouri assesses each district on the criteria of 14 predetermined standards. These standards are: Mission and Goals, Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal, Institutional Resources, Leadership and Governance, Administration, Integrity, Institutional Assessment, Student Support Services, Faculty, Educational Offerings, General Education, Related Educational Activities, and Assessment of Student Learning. In 2010, KCMO passed its assessment by only meeting four of the listed criteria. According to Kansas City News Pro, in 2011 only three of the 14 accreditation standards were met resulting in the loss of its accreditation.
“Thousands of kids [in the KCMO district] have no control over where they stay and the people who teach them, and the education that they’re getting,” Mislie Jean-Baptiste, a Spelman student who attended school in the KCMO school district, said.
This turn of events did not occur without warning. State Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told the Huffington Post that there have been “concerns” about the district for years now. A lack of quality leadership may be to blame for this unfortunate circumstance.
“Teachers need to reassess their teaching strategies and find away to keep students motivated as well as have an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses,” Jean-Baptiste said.
“Leadership instability over the years has been an issue,” Nicastro said to the Huffington Post after the KCMO school district lost its superintendent.
John Covington was the most recent superintendent of the KCMO school district. During Covington’s tenure, nearly half of the district’s schools closed and enrollment shrunk to about 17,000. After this, it was not a surprise when Covington resigned weeks preceding the district’s failed assessment. He and three other cabinet chiefs later accepted positions in a state-run district in Michigan.
Regardless of the status of the district, the students of KCMO remain in need of an education. State law allows students living within the boundary of an unaccredited school district to attend school in neighboring districts. However, suburban school districts such as Blue Springs, Independence, Raytown, North Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, and Center oppose a massive wave of transfers from the outside. As of Jan. 1, students have enrolled into neighboring districts as planned, and suburban district officials await the outcome of the courts.
The future of the KCMO school district is unclear. State board member Stan Archie from Kansas City remains optimistic.
“The loss of accreditation could help boost the resources and attention paid to its schools,” Archie said in the Huffington Post.
The question of how soon the district is expected to see improvements remains unanswered. The soonest that a state takeover can be set in place is not until June 30, 2014.