If districts are thought of as students, most in the class are doing well, competing with each other for the top spot and gold stars. A smaller portion of the class is struggling, but making some improvement.Wealthy districts in the St. Louis area scored between 95 and 99 on the same scale that awarded Michael Brown's school a 7.
And just one is on the extreme end of failure. ...
Normandy’s standing slipped even lower on this year’s state review. Student test scores dropped further, and so did attendance. The district received just 7 percent of possible points, down from 11 percent in 2013....
The 3,000 students in Normandy schools last year faced a number of stresses, such as the midyear closure of an elementary school, teacher layoffs, dwindling finances and media coverage of the transfer situation.
The rest is below the fold.
In Missouri, school district performance is scored on a 100 point scale, and districts that fall below a score of 50 are in danger of losing accreditation. The scoring is not based entirely on academic performance. It includes values such as the number of college-track courses and students going on to college, which makes the formula favor districts with higher income. The common theme among struggling districts is the same—poverty. There are no unaccredited districts in wealthy areas. Normandy operated on provisional accreditation for several years before losing accreditation in 2011.
Most school districts draw the bulk of their income not from the taxes levied on individual housing, but from property taxes paid by businesses. Near-city districts in the St. Louis area suffered from both white flight that reduced the value of homes, but also business closures that left little commercial base. The situation at Normandy school district is particularly bad because in 2009, the state board forced the underperforming Normandy district to merge with the even more troubled Wellston district. It was the first change in district boundaries since 1975. At the time, Wellston had been unaccredited for six years, was deeply in debt, and many of its schools were little better than ruins.
Wellston was already under the control of state-appointed leadership and in the previous year had shown improvement. Having Normandy swallow the ailing Wellston district, rather than simply trying to fix Wellston, obviously raised some concerns.
Many of the questioners cast doubt on the wisdom of taking an unaccredited district like Wellston and making it part of a district like Normandy that has only provisional accreditation.In an effort to sustain their schools, voters in Wellston—whose schools were 100 percent African American—had already raised their tax rates to the highest in the state. Normandy had the second-highest rate.
At that time, people also asked what the financial effect may be on Wellston and Normandy families; officials said those details were not yet worked out. ...
Noting that Normandy itself has only provisional accreditation, Karen Nance said she did not understand how putting the two districts together will result in the kind of student achievement that educators say they want.
She also wondered why the public was only told about the proposal at the last minute, when it appears to have already been decided.
"I think the community does have good questions about what was the process," she said. "Why did it go this far without other ideas being discussed?"
The decision to merge Wellston and Normandy was made by the state board of education. Chris Nicastro, the state commissioner of education, announced the merger and made it clear that no outside help was forthcoming.
Through it all, Nicastro stuck to her message: Wellston's facilities are inadequate, its students have not made enough academic progress, its superintendent is retiring, its finances are stable but weak, there is little hope of more help from the state and this is the right time to try something new.Neither the Wellston district nor the Normandy district was given any option. Nicastro was supported by the state board of education, which appointed her as commissioner. The state board of education is led by Peter Herschend, a conservative Republican millionaire from the Branson area who owns Silver Dollar City and 25 other amusement parks. Nicastro and Herschend are now in direct control of the Normandy district.
State law allows students at unaccredited districts to transfer to neighboring districts. Many Normandy students took this option in 2013. However, at the end of the school year the state board dissolved Normandy School District and replaced it with a "cooperative" that had the same schools, same students, same woeful finances. Only the state accredited this new entity citing its ability to ignore its own rules. The state board is now arguing that Normandy students are no longer eligible to transfer, since they don't attend a failing district. In fact, they don't belong to any district, so they can't sue for relief.
A comment from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article linked at the top of this diary shows the attitude of all too many. When someone pointed out that Jennings, another highly African-American district, was doing much better than Normandy, they drew this reply.
The students at Normandy are darker skinned blacks than the students at Jennings. It's a known fact that lighter skinned blacks are smarter...LOL.