Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Pledge to Monitor Status of Accreditation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Pledge to Monitor Status of Accreditation

Article excerpt

Hundreds of Riverview Gardens School District parents who were upset and expressed fear over their school district's new "unaccredited" status have been promised a monthly written report on corrective measures and a chance to volunteer to help.

Board President Michelle Gotthardt gave these verbal assurances late into a long evening of anxious questioning and occasional shouting, as parents gathered with the board at the senior high school Tuesday night.

The final review report of the Missouri School Improvement Review team, completed in late May, gave the district a status of "AAA-Unaccredited." The AAA status is the same highest rating that most St. Louis County districts have had for many years, but its use is being phased out. The "unaccredited" portion indicates that the district has up to four years to improve, or state officials would be empowered to force the district to merge with another district.

The Missouri School Improvement Program is a statewide system replacing the former rating system used for many years. Rather than just measuring resources, such as buildings and teacher certification, it also measures performance, or what the district does with its resources. This explanation was provided by Claire Hennessy-McCown, the St. Louis area supervisor of instruction for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Hennessy-McGown leads teams of about 30 area educators in examinations of local districts in the review program.

About 20 districts in the St. Louis area have been reviewed and Riverview Gardens is the first one to have received an unaccredited status from the State Board of Education that analyzes the team report. The state board is also empowered to amend the status when shown new evidence.

Riverview Gardens' report was unfavorable for several reasons; among the most important were students' relatively poor performance on basic skills tests, the dropout rate, the lack of curriculum guides and deficiencies in guidance, Hennessy-McGown said.

"I don't expect to see this district stay unaccredited," she said.

Gotthardt pointed out that she closely watched the state board vote and saw that Riverview Gardens barely missed receiving "provisionally accredited" status. …

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