Mehlville expects to earn top state education award

APR results become official Dec. 1

By MIKE ANTHONY

Mehlville School District officials anticipate the district will receive the state’s Distinction in Performance Award for High Achievement.

During a Board of Education meeting last week, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Staff Development Connie Hurst-Bayless presented the district’s Annual Performance Report, or APR, in which Mehlville met 14 of 14 standards.

Distributing copies of the APR, Hurst-Bayless said at the Nov. 15 Board of Education meeting, “The good news is in order to get Distinction in Performance, you must have at least 13 out of 14 met from the standards … and if you will look on the right-hand side of this document, there are ‘mets’ all the way down the right-hand column, which is very, very exciting. If you look at the second page, we did meet 14 out of 14 standards, and the attendance rate was the only one we had not met last time we talked.

“And through the efforts of Eric Knost and Steve Meyer, that has been corrected, and so we have made all the points our district needed to get a ‘met’ on that. So this is a very high honor for Mehlville School District, our staff, our students, our community, parents, board members. It’s quite exciting.”

The assistant superintendent also emphasized that the APR results will not become official until Dec. 1, but added, “We don’t anticipate any changes …”

At the board’s October meeting, Hurst-Bayless had presented and discussed the results of the district’s preliminary APR.

At that time, Mehlville had met 13 of the 14 standards. The district did not meet the standard for attendance rate, but Hurst-Bayless, North Area Superintendent Eric Knost, who was named deputy superintendent last week, and Steve Meyer of Information Technology Services challenged the preliminary attendance figure with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Their efforts were successful as Mehlville’s attendance rate was changed from a below-average rate of 89 percent to a high rate of 94.6 percent, according to interim Superintendent Jerry Chambers.

DESE issues an APR for each school district in the state detailing how each district met Missouri School Improvement Plan performance measures and Missouri Assessment Program standards.

In 2002 and 2003, the Mehlville School District earned Distinction in Performance Awards, attaining a perfect score each year.

In 2004 and 2005, the district did not earn the Distinction in Performance.

Of the 14 APR standards, six deal with performance on MAP tests in mathematics and communication arts.

Mehlville also met the standards for ACT scores, advanced courses, career-education courses, college placement, career-education placement, graduation rate, attendance rate and subgroup achievement involving Adequate Yearly Progress.

DESE also recalculated some of the district’s AYP subgroup figures. As a result, Beasley Elementary, Bierbaum Elemen-tary, Wohlwend Elementary and Washington Middle have made AYP in all of their subgroups for mathematics and communication arts.

Because of the recalculations, every elementary school in the Mehlville School District made AYP in all of their subgroups for mathematics and communication arts.

Furthermore, Buerkle Middle made AYP in all of its mathematics subgroups. Given that, all middle schools in the district made AYP in all of their mathematics subgroups.

Regarding the APR, Chambers told the Call, “Obviously, we are all ecstatic over this noble achievement. All of us realize that there were difficult times for the district’s leadership and with public relations over the past couple of years. Yet our teachers focused on student instruction and student guidance, which are the priorities for any committed educator. This honor, when it becomes official, will mean that Mehlville School District ranks high in the state and among the few in St. Louis County who have garnered this noble achievement.

“Specifically, I want to thank all of our excellent classroom teachers who, out of the spotlight, make a difference with our youngsters day after day, year after year,” he said, adding that he specifically appreciated the efforts of Knost, Hurst-Bayless and Meyer.

Chambers said he is pleased with this year’s report, but said he is worried about next year’s APR.

“It’s fun for me as superintendent of schools to become a cheerleader. It’s fun for me to give away the credit to our staff. It’s important that our staff and the public recognize this honor and achievement does not reflect any achievement on my part. This was done before I arrived on the scene,” he said. “In fact, while I’m impressed with what has occurred, I’m worried about what our achievement results might be this current year. Even though we have 99 percent of the same dedicated staff, our staff cuts and teacher reductions specifically have caused a few assignments that somewhat worry me.

“For example, we have some teachers teaching outside of their area of specialization. To further clarify, a teacher who might have a specialty in science might be teaching in his or her minor area, which could be communication areas. The emphasis at the state and national level currently is on math and communication arts — not so much on science or social studies and other subject areas. However, my optimism tells me that excellent teachers find a way to deliver in areas which are not their specialty or area of interest,” he continued. “We have those kinds of teachers, fortunately, in the Mehlville School District. Their priority is the student and they thrive on not coming up short when it comes to instruction or student learning. We’ll just have to wait and see, but I caution people next year to judge our re-sults then in the light of some of those staff reductions made in the spring of 2006.”