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Missouri school districts and parents are getting a more detailed picture school performance with the release of the state's new rating system today. The new system replaces the old 14 point scale with a percentage score based on test scores, attendance, graduation rates and other criteria.
The changes mean finer distinctions between high-performing districts.
It could also mean more districts lose accreditation, including two local districts that don't quite measure up under the new standards: University City and Ferguson-Florissant. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that state officials are not likely to use the scores to take away accreditation until at least 2015, when they have three years of data to consider.
The figures show just how far struggling school districts have to go to become fully accredited again. The unaccredited Normandy district earned just 11 percent. The unaccredited Riverview Gardens district faired a little better at just under 29 percent. And the provisionally accredited St. Louis Public Schools scored just below 25 percent. Districts need 50 percent for provisional accreditation and 70 percent or more to be fully accredited.
The State of Missouri may have to pay part of the costs for the school transfer program. The unaccredited Normandy School District will spend between 15 and 18 million dollars to send hundreds of students to Francis Howell and other, better performing districts. Missouri Education Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro told Fox 2 News that at that rate, Normandy will likely run out of money before the end of the school year.
"If Normandy cannot meet their obligations, then there's going to have to be some money come from somewhere," Nicastro said. "The legislature's the only body I know of that can appropriate those funds."
Dr. Nicastro says the costs could go up next year. That's when new education standards kick in across the state, which she believes will cause more districts to become unaccredited.
The cost of taking the high school equivalency exam in Missouri could go up to $140 in January. That's when the company that administers the GED test plans to introduce a new, computerized version of the exam.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the new test will cost twice as much as before, but GED Testing Service says states could actually save money, since they won't have to pay for things like grading the exams.
Missouri, like many other states, is exploring it's options. State officials have requested bids from two competing test makers and plan to make a decision this month.