R-II receives high marks, R-III struggles in latest APR scores

By John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 4/5/23

The Wright City R-II and Warren County R-III school districts took steps in opposite directions on the most recent Annual Performance Reports. 

The Wright City R-II district came in at 161st …

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R-II receives high marks, R-III struggles in latest APR scores


The Wright City R-II and Warren County R-III school districts took steps in opposite directions on the most recent Annual Performance Reports. 

The Wright City R-II district came in at 161st out of 553 school districts in the state with a final score of 81.9 out of 100 on the 2022 Annual Performance Reports. The Warren County R-III school district placed 517th in the rankings with a score of 64.2. 

The Wright City R-II school district received an on target rating in five categories, including academic achievement for social studies and graduation rate. They were deemed on target in academic achievement for English Language Arts, mathematics and science. The district received 48 out of a possible 52 points in the continuous improvement category.  

“I can’t be more proud of where we are in the first iteration of this. I think it’s terrific,” Smith said. “Parents in our community should be proud their kids go here and should be thankful the education that their kids get. Because it’s really high and it’s high quality. Our people are pretty awesome.”

Smith was even more encouraged by the district’s scores when comparing Wright City’s scores to the other districts who scored higher than Wright City. He noted the school districts that ranked higher than Wright City lack the same diversity as the R-II district, except for charter schools in the state. 

“They are either very affluent districts, they have little to no diversity or they’re K-8 districts,” Smith said. “The only districts above us with more diversity than us would be charter schools who control their population. There’s not one school in the 160 schools above us who has our metrics who has the level of diversity that we have.”

The Warren County R-III district received an on target designation in two categories and an on track designation in another two categories. They were deemed to be on track in academic achievement status among all students for English Language Arts. They received the approaching designation in mathematics, social studies and science. 

The district’s lowest category was in academic achievement growth. The district received only four points out of a possible 36 points in academic achievement growth for English Language Arts and mathematics. 

Warren County R-III Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said the district’s scores are down but they are not the worst scores the district ever received. The district’s main issue is the low score in growth. 

“There’s no way to know what goes into this,” Klinginsmith said. “The way it works is they predict where a child will score based off their score from last year. But they also put in factors like their race, their gender, their special education status, free and reduced lunch, where they go to school. I can’t find a list anywhere that tells me how that’s calculated.”

Klinginsmith expressed concern about the “lack of transparency” from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Klinginsmith inquired with the department but did not receive any clear answers on how the score is calculated. 

He stressed the growth factor is solely based on English Language Arts and Mathematics. If the district wanted to score higher in growth, they could turn their focus to those two subjects for the duration of the school day. 

“That’s not what we’re going to do,” Klinginsmith said. “We’re still going to have arts. We’re still have ag. We’re still going to have PE. We’re still going to have all those courses that make a well rounded child. Are we going to try to get better at math and ELA? Sure, absolutely. But our focus is to have a well-rounded, happy child.”

Klinginsmith noted there are multiple factors that impacted the district’s scores. The district had six teachers quit in the middle of last school year. They also saw their middle school principal leave in the middle of the school year the last two years. With the lack of property assessments in recent years, the district is also struggling to keep up with teacher pay to recruit and retain qualified teachers. The data shows a teacher’s years of experience and whether they obtained a master’s degree are major contributing factors to student performance, Klinginsmith explained. 

“You’re seeing more and more rural districts go to the four day school week to try to get to the pieces that matter the most which is teachers with masters degrees and teachers with years of experience. That’s what matters,” Klinginsmith said. 

The state Annual Performance Reports implemented new criteria for the first time for the 2022 scores. Despite Wright City R-II’s score going from the 90% mark to just above 80%, the district performed better in the 2022 Annual Performance Report. The district would have received a 64.7% score in 2019 if the current model were used at that time.  

“We talked last meeting about the districts were going to drift from that 90% average down,” Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Chris Berger said. “Was it because districts performed not as well? No, it was a different criteria.”

Smith stressed since the 2019 school year, the district revised and implemented a new Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. The district focused on measuring standards in all subject areas and not just in core content areas. Smith believes some teachers are tying assessments to standards in ways they have never done before.

Since that time, they created impact teams and focused meetings on improved performance and instruction. 

“We kind of lost and took our eye off the ball a little bit on student learning and student performance,” Smith said. “We got that focus back. We had a nice 2022. I think it’s trending that way in 2023.” 

Both districts expressed confidence they will receive positive scores in the 2023 Annual Performance Reports. Klinginsmith stressed the various factors the district faced last school year. 

“I would expect that the tests we’re getting ready to take next month will be much better than the ones we did last year,” Klinginsmith said. “There’s so many other factors that were in play last year that were really bad for us here at the district. I’m hopeful for this upcoming year.”