More than nine years after St. Louis Public Schools lost its accreditation, the Missouri State Board of Education has voted unanimously to restore full accreditation tothe school system.
The state board says in a news release that the vote followed a presentation by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that outlined the district’s student growth in academics as well as stability in leadership and finances.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate really great things in the district,” says State Board President Charlie Shields. “Today’s decision should be viewed as a major success for St. Louis, the state of Missouri and the Department.”
The district became unaccredited in June 2007. The state’s accountability system at that time found deficiencies related to school finance, governance, and academic instruction and rigor. The district became provisionally accredited in October 2012.
Since its accreditation was revoked, enrollment in the St. Louis district has declined from 32,000 students to just 22,500 this year, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
In restoring full accreditation, state officials pointed to several areas of improvement. St. Louis schools are showing student academic growth in English language arts and math, as well as showing student progress in social studies. The district exceeded its growth targets in math for 2015 and 2016 and exceeded its English language arts target in 2015 and was on track for 2016. The district improved student attendance and graduation rates as well as its use of data to lead improvement efforts.
“The progress in St. Louis was brought about by a whole collection of unsung heroes, starting with students,” says State Board Member Mike Jones. “They made a commitment as individuals to get better.”
While acknowledging that regaining accreditation is a step in the right direction, state officials remain concerned that too many students in St. Louis continue to read below grade level. The district also needs to improve its retention of staffing and its level of academic rigor.
“St. Louis schools should celebrate this milestone of full accreditation while understanding that the work of educating kids is never finished,” says Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven. “We are hopeful that district leadership will continue to focus on student learning in every classroom with effective teachers and school leaders.”