The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education revealed Wednesday that the Joplin R-8 School District had outperformed every school district in southwest Missouri and had been near the top in the state as far as improvement in MAP scores was concerned. And as all of us in education know, MAP scores are the benchmark by which all Missouri schools are judged.
The Joplin Daily began its story this way:
"Schools in the Joplin R-8 School District made state lists for top 10 most improved schools while the district itself was listed as the third most-improved district in Missouri, according to a written release from the school district.
" 'To be ranked third in the state is a tremendous accomplishment," said Superintendent Jim Simpson. Our students, teachers, and principals have worked very hard to make students performance a priority and this recognition reflects their efforts and their commitment.' "
This is how The Joplin Globe began its article in today's edition:
Perhaps the news is prominently featured in the print edition. All I have seen is what Globe editors have posted on the website, but I can find no mention of this accomplishment.
Two years ago when state officials designated the R-8 School District as one of the few in the state that was "accredited with distinction" the Globe pretty much passed it off as if it were an everyday accomplishment. The article ran on page one, but Joplin was lumped in with Webb City and Carl Junction, two other area schools which also recorded the accomplishment. The rarity of the achievement was not addressed. The fact that three schools in such a close proximity made it might appear like it was not worth much. As I recall, those three school districts were the only ones in this region to be honored. It should be mentioned, the key factor in receiving "Accredited with Distinction" is how students fare on MAP tests.
This last fall, the Joplin R-8 School District was the only district in the state to be "Accredited with Distinction." The accomplishment was barely mentioned in the Globe and was not treated as a major page one story. I can't recall what the lead story was that day, but I am sure it was some regional controversy.
Some of you may recall the story a few years back of the Joplin R-8 teacher who was arrested on drug charges. Now that was a page one story. A sleazy article last year about a Joplin R-8 Board member, totally based on hearsay, also received the page one buildup.
The Joplin R-8 School District reaching the top in the state, however, does not even merit a mention on the Globe website. Hopefully, this is an oversight and the story is in the print edition or Globe editors and reporters are working overtime on a comprehensive package detailing the district's accomplishments. Until then, I will be content to read what John Hacker and Kaylea Hutson have to say about the district in the Joplin Daily.
For those who have not seen the Daily article, six Joplin R-8 schools, including South Middle School, where I teach, Memorial Middle School, and four elementary schools, Duenweg, Royal Heights, Columbia, and Cecil Floyd (Duenweg placed in both math and communication arts, while the other elementary schools scored in math. Both South and Memorial middle schools scored high in communication arts.)
The only other area school districts to place were: McDonald County (5) and Nevada (1). The only school districts to place more schools on the list than Joplin were: St. Louis City 16 and Springfield 9.
Note: Before the negative element of the Turner Report readership begins posting responses, it should be noted that the communication arts scores at South Middle School, which were up 21 percent last year, had nothing whatsoever to do with my teaching. Seventh graders took the test, not eighth graders. The teachers responsible were seventh grade communications arts teacher Angel Mense, reading teacher Linda Weaver, and the sixth grade teachers and elementary teachers who provided the students with the foundation for their accomplishments. You can also add to that list, sixth and seventh grade teachers in other subjects who have increased the amount of writing required in their courses, adminisrators who have set the goals and provided the support to reach them, and of course, the students who supplied the performances that put South at the top.
The local television stations all offered excellent reports on their 10 p.m. newscasts, leaving the Globe the only one out of the loop, since I just checked its print edition and cannot find a mention of the R-8 accomplishment.