A new study of 25 local school districts, including the St. Louis Public Schools, by the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable is an important snapshot of the region’s effort to improve all student achievement and to eliminate the difference in achievement between black and white students.
Only Rockwood and Parkway have more students enrolled in gifted programs than does SLPS. And SLPS students have greater access to the Internet than do students in any other local district, except Mehlville.
But, the report tells the same story Dr. Creg Williams has been saying since he arrived: a very poor district with an under-trained staff is going to fail most of its students eventually, unless it dedicates itself to systemic changes.
At the elementary school level, there’s some good news for some St. Louis parents: SLPS is third among the 25 districts in placing its youngest black students at the highest levels of achievement in communication arts; has the second smallest gap between black and white students in both communication arts and math; and ranks second in communication arts and fourth in math in having black students at the advanced and proficient levels.
(The local school district with the lowest achievement levels for black elementary school students is Parkway.)
At the middle school level, where students have been in the district longer, there’s much less good news for St. Louis Public Schools: SLPS has the second lowest achievement levels for black middle school students in communication arts; and the third highest percentage of communication arts students in the lowest level of achievement.
(Ladue and Clayton share top scores for the highest achievement levels for black middle school students.)
At the high school level, where students are veterans of past administrations, there’s very little good news (yet) for St. Louis Public Schools: although there are only small gaps in achievement between black and white high school students in SLPS, overall achievement is very low. SLPS has among the highest percentages of black students at the lowest levels of achievement in both communication arts and math. And only Special School District and Normandy have lower achievement levels in math.
In the standard measure of economic condition, almost 35,000 SLPS students — 86 percent of the total qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
There are more than three times as many special education students enrolled in SLPS than in the entire Special School District.
Almost 3,000 SLPS students have only limited proficiency in the language in which their classes are taught.
SLPS ranks at the bottom of sending its students on to colleges.
Every teacher in Kirkwood, Bayless, Pattonville, and Valley Park is certified — as are all but a handful in Ladue, Ferguson-Florissant, Mehlville, and every other district in the survey. SLPS, however, has a teacher accreditation rate of only 86 percent.