Kent King, who leads public education in Missouri, is not given to overstatement. That’s why I found a recent conversation with him about the most recent set of test scores from St. Louis public schools so encouraging.
After noting that the test scores of the district’s oldest students were still lagging behind those of students in other districts, Commissioner King offered this assessment: the improved reading scores of the district’s third graders suggest that the school district might have turned a corner. The percentage of SLPS 3rd graders reading at satisfactory or above is now within a few points of the rest of the state’s.
Commissioner King and most educational experts attribute this accomplishment to the sound curriculum decisions of Dr. Lynn Spampinato and her team, to the competence and dedication of the district’s teachers and staff, and to the hard work of the district’s youngest students. Commissioner King says that the reading scores support the district’s strategy of having a unified curriculum aligned to the state standards, and implementing professional development aligned to the curriculum.
We know that there remains much work to be done in other subjects. And no one should be happy about the continuing struggles of some of the district’s older students.
But, it is important to acknowledge progress — especially when it means that a seemingly intractable problem does, in fact, have a solution.
I congratulate the district, the board of education, and — above all — the students and their parents for their accomplishments.