The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 8, 2013

Joplin, other districts face tougher accreditation requirements from state

JOPLIN, Mo. — A tougher state accreditation system that places more emphasis on graduation rates, among other criteria, will challenge school districts such as that of Joplin to get those rates up over the next three years or become “provisionally” accredited.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put together a draft report using data from the 2011-12 school year as part of its preparation for switching to a new set of standards this school year. Using the new model of accreditation with last year’s data, Joplin, Wheaton and nearly 30 other districts statewide would be provisionally accredited, rather than fully accredited.

Districts continue making updates to the data used in the draft report. The state department has said most districts won’t see their accreditation classification change until 2015, giving them time to improve under the new system.

Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent in Joplin, said the draft report does not change anything for the district, which already has been working on many of its weaknesses.

“In the old system, we were held accountable for many of the same criteria, but the criteria were all weighted equally, and that is the major difference with the new system,” she said. “One of the categories that’s rated more heavily is graduation rates, and it’s no secret that that’s been a challenge for us.”

The district has worked for years to bring up its graduation rate. It was 78.5 percent last year, up from 75.1 percent in 2009, but is still below the state average, according to the state education department. It is worth about three times more in the new system than in the old system, Besendorfer said.

Besendorfer said the new system also gives points for every high school student taking a college or career readiness exam, such as the ACT, SAT or ASVAB, whereas the old model looked only at a district’s average score of students taking those exams. The Joplin district has not required its 2,100 high school students to take one of the exams at some point during their high school career.

The new system also gives more weight to higher test scores in some subjects, and it requires schools to track things such as how many students succeed in higher-level courses rather than just how many enroll in them.

Besendorfer said the draft report is “not a concern” for the school district.

“For us, it’s like here’s where we are, and the game is different, so let’s make sure we’re doing all the things we need to do to gain the points under the new system,” she said. “It (the draft report) is really just a mock-up of what it will look like when we get the data next year, and the year after, and the year after. And when they get three years of data, then we’ll get our accreditation.”

The Wheaton School District also is now fully accredited but would be listed as provisionally accredited in the draft report. Superintendent Lance Massey said the district’s data were complicated by some “reporting errors.” Administrators plan to use the report as a way to focus on areas needing improvement, such as attendance rates, and students’ college and career readiness, he said.

“This gives us a draft to know where we need to be to make sure we are fully accredited in three years when the new standards come out,” he said. “We would very much look at this as a tool to look at where we stand now and evaluate where we need to be in the future as a continuous improvement model.”

Under the new system, districts must earn 50 percent of overall points or face the risk of becoming unaccredited. Districts that are unaccredited can ultimately face a state takeover, while provisionally accredited districts — those that earn between 50 percent and 70 percent of overall points — are subject to extra monitoring.

The draft report shows that five districts would fall in the unaccredited range and 31 districts would fall in the provisionally accredited range.

Under the old system, only about 20 of the state’s 520 districts fell in the unaccredited or provisionally accredited performance range. Because the state reviews several years of data before making an accreditation change, only three districts are now officially deemed unaccredited, and 11 are provisionally accredited.

The state’s system of accrediting schools predates the federal No Child Left Behind education law, and the latest version is the fifth. It’s not uncommon when the state updates the evaluation system for early estimates to predict jumps in the number of districts falling in the unaccredited and provisionally accredited range. Ultimately, many of those districts are able to improve enough to avoid those categories, and the state plans to work with districts to ensure the same thing will happen this time.

“Districts typically have demonstrated that they have risen to the occasion and they have shown some great improvement,” said Margie Vandeven, an assistant commissioner for the state department.

Roger Kurtz, executive director of the Missouri Association of School Administrators, cautioned against reading too much into the draft report, noting that the data are still being assessed.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this report.

Text Only
Local News
  • ArtFest.jpg Giant footballs arrive in Pittsburg; organizers seeking more underwriters, artists for event

    Twenty-four giant fiberglass footballs arrived in Pittsburg on Wednesday to officially kick off SEK Art Fest’s second annual public art event.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cancer patient’s drug, probation cases postponed ‘until further notice’

    A Joplin woman who is battling a rare type of cancer has gotten a temporary reprieve in her drug and probation cases so she can focus on her health issues, according to her attorney. Velma Crain, who appeared Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, was facing the possible revocation of her probation after having been arrested last year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.

    April 15, 2014

  • Suspect in assault on officer apprehended in Texas

    The U.S. Marshals Service caught up with a suspect in Texas who was wanted in an assault on a Seneca police officer and alleged probation violations in Arkansas. Cory A. Rantz, 25, is being held in Collin County north of Dallas on warrants issued in Missouri and Arkansas. Federal marshals reportedly located the fugitive at a strip mall in Texas on Monday afternoon and took him into custody.

    April 15, 2014

  • Ex-Jasper teacher’s aide accused of sexual contact with student

    A former teacher’s aide at Jasper High School has been charged with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student and is being investigated for possible sexual contact with other boys at the school. Janice L. Rusk, 43, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy following investigations by school officials and law enforcement.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Open a beer, chat with Tom, see his exhibit

    I like to think that I would have gotten along with Thomas Hart Benton. Sure, I’ve read that sometimes Tom (I think I can call him Tom) could be grouchy, and if someone said something stupid or acted like a jerk, he didn’t mind telling that person exactly what he thought of him. But hey, I grew up with people like that.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041514recycledfashion.jpg Joplin High School students to model ‘recycled’ dresses at fashion show

    Audrey Kaman will walk the runway later this week wearing a dress she designed herself — made out of 250 doilies. “I’d say it’s a fun dress,” the Joplin High School sophomore said. “It’s not really elegant because it’s short, but it’s cute.”

    April 15, 2014 4 Photos

  • Shooter in Joplin murder sentenced to life in prison

    The teen convicted of being the triggerman in the murder of Jacob Wages was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole. At a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin, Circuit Judge Gayle Crane followed a jury’s recommendations in assessing Daniel D. Hartman, 18, two life sentences on convictions for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 15 years on a conviction for burglary.

    April 15, 2014

  • Interchange construction work near Carterville to create safer off-ramp

    As the Missouri Department of Transportation begins rebuilding eastbound ramps at the Missouri Highway 171 and Route HH interchange near Carterville this week, drivers can expect ramp and occasional lane closures. The $1.5 million project, funded by the state, will increase the distance between ramps for drivers traveling northbound on Highway 249 and exiting eastbound to Highway 171.

    April 15, 2014

  • Commission awards contract for bridge replacement project

    The Jasper County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract for construction of a new bridge on County Road 48.

    April 15, 2014

  • Neosho Ethics Board calls witnesses in complaint against council members

    City Manager Troy Royer on Monday night described what he said was an assault by City Councilman Steve Hart, and other incidents involving Hart and Councilman David Ruth. His statements were made to the Neosho Ethics Board, which is investigating a complaint filed against Hart and Ruth. Board members had described Royer as their key witness.

    April 15, 2014

Must Read


In an effort to curb prostitution, St. Louis police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the "johns" who use the services. Postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date. Do you think this is a good approach?

A. Yes.
N. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter