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Columbia Public Schools looking to improve performance and attendance after annual report card


Columbia Public Schools improved just 0.1% overall from 2022 to 2023 in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Annual Performance Report.

CPS earned 70.1% of the possible points in this year's report that combines performance and improvement scores from the 2022-2023 school year. The district received 92.3% of points in the continuous improvement section and 61.9% of points in performance.

2023 Annual Performance Report data for Columbia Public Schools. Courtesy DESE

In 2022, CPS earned 70% of the overall points for the 2021-2022 school year.

Looking at performance this year, the district was designated "on track" for overall social studies and science academic achievement at 75% of points earned, and "approaching" for language arts and math at 50% of points earned.

2023 Annual Performance Report data for Columbia Public Schools. Courtesy DESE

CPS saw above-average scores in science growth, as students received 80% of points earned in that category. However, it saw below-average growth in language arts at 50%, a category it saw above-average scores in last year.

It saw average growth in social studies and math this year.

In a news release Monday, CPS Superintendent Brian Yearwood said language arts and math are areas of concern for the district. He notes the district has implemented strategies to improve achievement including multi-tiered support systems, expanding tutoring opportunities and making people more aware of the data.

In an interview, Yearwood said administration is looking at how to engage students more in the classroom and working closely with teachers by looking at what he called "high yield strategies" to get students more active in the lessons.

"Are our scholars more sitting there and are compliant, just going along because the teacher says this, or are they truly engaging with the lesson so we can have that depth of learning that is needed as far as retaining the information and not just retaining it, but being able to apply the learning as part of their growth," Yearwood said.

Another area of concern for the district is attendance. CPS received no points in the attendance category, which is scored 0-4. Zero points, according to the scoring guide, is designated as "floor" with an attendance rate below 79%.

2023 Annual Performance Report data for Columbia Public Schools. Courtesy DESE

In Yearwood's statement, he said while attendance still needs to improve, the district improved from 73.4% attendance in 2022 to 78.2% attendance in 2023. This aligns with the district's Continuous School Improvement Plan, which calls for a 5% increase in attendance each school year.

He notes students who are in attendance more than 90% of the time received double the proficiency rates on the 2023 MAP test in communication arts and math than students who attended below 90% of the time.

CPS MAP scores and student attendance rates in 2022 and 2023. Courtesy CPS

"We need scholars in seat as much as you can," Yearwood said. "We know that the illnesses and things that happen, we do understand that, but the more our scholars can be with us, then it increases their performance levels academically."

Attendance isn't just a CPS issue. In a press conference to discuss the annual performance report, Missouri DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven said attendance has declined since the pandemic and has not returned to pre-pandemic rates.

"Addressing chronic absenteeism often calls for a community-wide response," Vandeven said. "Students must be present to learn. Regular attendance is sometimes out of the student's own control, but is a student success factor and a workforce readiness expectation. Declining attendance is a concern in Missouri schools and has a magnified impact particularly on our lowest performing students."

Yearwood said CPS currently has about 80% of students coming to class more than 90% of the time in the 2023-2024 school year. He said the district has implemented incentives and attendance competitions among students, and now sends a warning to parents after five days of absence.

Yearwood said areas of achievement for the district include advanced credit, graduation rates, ICAP and its 92.3% of points earned in continuous improvement.

CPS received 100% of available points in the advanced credit area.

DESE gave CPS a 75% for its graduation rate, and Yearwood notes the district only missed earning full points in this category by two students.

The district received 100% of points in ICAP, standing for Individual Career and Academic Plan. In 2022, the district received zero points.

This is the second year DESE has scored school districts using the MSIP 6 model, which gives schools a score based on performance and continuous improvement. Seventy percent of the total points come from performance, while 30% of points come from continuous growth.

When asked about the .1% increase at CPS from 2022 to 2023, Yearwood said people need to dive into the data because the numbers have changed from 2022 to 2023. In 2022, CPS earned 70% of an available 180 points. In 2023, it earned 70.1% of an available 192 points.

This is the first year growth scores are available for science and social studies.

Because this is only the second year DESE has used this scoring model, districts will not be classified based on performance until the 2023-2024 school year data is reported. Data from the 2023 annual performance report can also only be accurately compared to 2022 data.

Yearwood said his goal is to eventually see Columbia as the best district in the state, receiving 100% of total points.

"This year in particular, we are now even more focused with our data and our initiatives to be able to make sure that our scholars are growing and learning in ways that they should," Yearwood said.

When looking at other Mid-Missouri districts, Jefferson City schools received 76.7% of points in the overall annual performance report total, up from 70.9% in 2022. It earned 71% of points in performance and 92.3% in continuous improvement.

Fulton schools received 70.2%, down from 73.3% in 2022. It earned 59.7% in performance and 98% in continuous improvement.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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