Lindbergh eyes third consecutive year as being No. 1 in academics in state

Officials pleased initial data puts school district at No. 1

By Mike Anthony

Preliminary testing data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education indicates Lindbergh Schools will rank No. 1 in academic achievement statewide for the third consecutive year, according to Superintendent Jim Simpson.

Based on the preliminary data, Lindbergh ranks No. 1 among all K-12 districts in Missouri in academic achievement.

Nearly 600,000 students took Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, tests last spring in communication arts, mathematics, science and social studies. MAP tests are administered annually at all public schools in Missouri.

“… Lindbergh is No. 1 in the region in math scores. We’re just a few tenths of a percent off of being No. 1 in language arts and we’re doing our research now, but it appears that we’re probably going to be, for the third year, No. 1 in K-12 student achievement for the state of Missouri,” he said. “We’re waiting for DESE to get some definite numbers out, but our preliminary research shows that will be the case …”

If the preliminary results bear out, having Lindbergh ranked No. 1 in the state for the third consecutive year would be “unprecedented,” Simpson said.

“I don’t know if there’s been a district that’s been three years in a row … I think that’s unprecedented. It’s usually sort of a roller coaster kind of thing that goes on there, and somebody’s up this year and down next year …,” he said. “It’s gotten to where people don’t even think of an icon district like, ‘Well, it’s going to be this one every time. Just everybody knows they’re going to be up there.’

“But three years in a row, that’s quite a track record. I know this: Lindbergh’s going to be in the top. We’ve institutionalized the way we do business in education around here to where we know that there’s not going to be any serious hiccups. We may dip to No. 2 or 3 at times, but the top five is where we live is sort of how we look at that …,” the superintendent added.

Since the downturn of the economy, the district has faced serious financial challenges, yet still has been able to maintain high levels of student achievement.

Since the 2007-2008 school year, Lindbergh sustained a cumulative loss of revenue totaling $18 million.

A 65-cent tax-rate increase approved by voters in November 2010 generated nearly $8.4 million for Lindbergh during the 2011-2012 school year.

Revenue from Proposition L allowed the board to approve a balanced budget in 2011 for the first time since 2002.

For the current school year, the Board of Education approved a budget that projects a surplus of $29,313. The budget eliminates summer school for elementary and middle-school students and reduces the district’s textbook budget for one year.

Given the financial constraints the district has faced, Simpson said Lindbergh officials are pleased preliminary data indicates the district will be No. 1 in the state for the third straight year.

“… We’re very happy, humbled and proud, I guess, that we’re able to (achieve) this because there are a number of great school districts in this state and many, many are our neighbors,” he said. “They’re very good at what they do, and it’s very difficult to bring test scores higher than these folks. They know their stuff well.”

At the same time, so do Lindbergh educators, Simpson said.

“I’m confident that we can produce that level of education every year. We can make this very consistent. We have perfected our craft in the way that we go about business, and it’s taken many years,” he said. “I am very lucky to be at Lindbergh, and it was already on its way to being the top district for student achievement. It’s just been on my watch that has occurred, and we work at, like I said, perfecting everything that we can do so we can produce this level of education year after year.”

District officials hope to receive final data from the state within the next week or so, Simpson said.

“It’s looking very good,” he said.