For the first time in two years, Kansas City Public Schools can say they're accredited.
The Missouri State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to grant the district provisional accreditation after what the board described as two years of improvement. But both the state board and district officials emphasized there is still work to be done.
"We are no by means satisfied, and by no means settling, for this accomplishment," says Superintendent Stephen Green. "We will take some time to enjoy and appreciate it, but we know we have a much higher level we need to get to."
KCPS lost accreditation in 2012. Though the district was eligible last year for provisional accreditation, the state board voted against it, wanting more evidence schools were improving. Green says the past two years should make it clear KCPS can sustain its progress.
But state board members were more cautious in their assessment of the district's improvement.
"The preliminary performance report shows student achievement in the district fell slightly this year with less than 30 percent of students earning proficient or advanced in English language arts and mathematics," the board said in a statement.
Provisional accreditation takes transfer law 'out of the conversation'
Now that the state board has granted provisional accreditation, the handful of students hoping to transfer to other districts will have to stay in Kansas City. Green says those students will be "welcomed" at district schools and district officials will work with their families to accommodate them.
He says parents who still aren't satisfied with the district's accreditation status can choose other schools.
KCPS Board of Directors President Jon Hile says increasingly, families are electing to remain at district schools.
"I have a first grader, and we chose the Kansas City Public Schools," he says. "My daughter is receiving an excellent education, and if she was not, I would be the first one to change that."
Green says he's hopeful the state board will be willing to discuss full accreditation next year.