Lindbergh Learning Report shows continued success

Lindbergh ACT scores dip, while MAP scores increase

By Kari Williams

With the exception of a slight dip in composite ACT test scores, Lindbergh Schools continues to show a general trend of improvement in student achievement.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Nancy Rathjen, Director of Curriculum and Student Programs Eric Cochran and all Lindbergh Schools principals presented district test scores, individual school results and various rankings to the Lindbergh Board of Education at its annual Learning Report last week.

Rathjen told the board budget cuts made since the 2009-2010 school year have made it difficult, but student achievement levels have increased.

“Our struggle for the last three years has been how do we continue to keep up the achievement and at the same time reduce those investments …,” Rathjen said. “Teachers have done an incredible job.”

National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, results show Lindbergh Schools first in eighth-grade reading, second in fourth-grade reading, second in fourth-grade math and third in eighth-grade math.

The school district was also ranked as the No. 1 K-12 school district in Missouri by

for the third year in a row. Five Lindbergh schools also were ranked in the top 10 for their respective categories on the site.

Crestwood, Concord and Sappington elementaries ranked second, fourth and fifth, respectively, out of 1,055 elementary schools. Truman and Sperreng middle schools ranked second and third, respectively, based out of 606 sixth- to eighth-grade middle schools.

Cohort growth for communication arts and mathematics scores shows a general upward trend for students from fourth to eighth grade. Communication arts scores range from 70 percent to 80 percent. Mathematics scores range from 80 percent to 90 percent.

The Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, performance index from 2006 to 2012, shows Lindbergh as the top district — just ahead of Ladue School District — for 2012.

Though MAP scores have shown a general upward trend, the district’s most recent ACT scores dipped from 24.2 composite to 23. Cochran said he believes it is fair to say as a district “we’re a little disappointed,” but noted Lindbergh is “still well above” the composite score for the state, which is 21.6, and nationally, which is 21.1.

Cochran also said he believes the reason for the composite score decrease is because from 2011 to 2012, there was a nearly “80-student jump” in the number of students taking the test.

“That’s a significant number when you’re talking about 410 kids taking the test…,” he said. “You would expect, I think, as the number of students taking this test increase, that there’s going to be a dip along the way.”

The additional students taking the ACT “represent a new population of students,” according to Cochran.

“This is a group of students who typically in the past would not be considered part of that college-bound track, so to speak,” he said, “and now they’re gaining confidence and they want to take this test, so you expect to see some kind of drop and recognizing that and knowing (Lindbergh High School Principal) Dr. (Ron) Helms has been trying to push this for this higher population of kids taking this test, he’s already taken some proactive steps to address that.”

Helms said the district has individuals taking the initiative to “step forward and make sure that kids are truly learning.”

“Sometimes you have to step out into the ring and you have to get a little bloody, and, that said, you do get gains because of that,” Helms said, “and I think that’s the important piece to recognize here.”

Crestwood Elementary School Principal Scott Taylor said one of the reasons Lindbergh has been so successful is because of replacing “outstanding principals with new outstanding principals.”

“Crestwood, Long, Kennerly, Truman and Sappington (elementaries), all the principals have really worked well together, lots of collaboration, and when we lose wonderful principals like Brian McKenney to Central Office, we replace them with wonderful new principals who continue with that spirited collaboration,” Taylor said.

Board President Vic Lenz said he has been a part of the district for more than 40 years and has “never seen results like this.”

“Our challenge as a board is how to keep doing that with resources that aren’t increasing,” Lenz said.

Superintendent Jim Simpson said Lindbergh is a “special place.”

“It’s the Lindbergh family. We have very little bureaucracy, we are really open door from top to bottom,” Simpson said. “We focus totally on the needs of each individual staff member and each individual student …”

Cochran said though there are many ways to measure achievement on the district, state and national levels, the toughest standard Lindbergh has to meet is the one it sets for itself.

“Every year trying to beat ourselves and better what we’ve been doing is probably the greatest challenge I think we have as a district,” Cochran said.