KCUR 89.3 covers education issues across the Kansas City region and in Kansas and Missouri. 

Ways to Connect

Cynborg / Wikimedia-CC

Friday is the day almost every school district in Missouri waits for all year. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on Friday morning released its yearly evaluation of schools and districts in Missouri.

More like tax day than Christmas, the results produce winners and losers.

Kansas City Public Schools found out three weeks ago that it moved up to provisional accreditation. DESE bases its entire assessment on a complicated 140-point scale, based on everything from academic achievement to graduation rates and classroom growth year to year.

Courtesy Crime Stoppers

Parents and students in Northland school districts  have a new, more efficient way to relay tips to Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers has promoted its 474-TIPS hotline number for 32 years. More recently, the organization started taking tips by texts. The Northland Safe School Task Force got so many texts that officials reached out to Kansas City Crime Stoppers to help manage the information from students and parents.

JBrazito / Flickr-CC

If you haven’t been in a school lately, you might be surprised that entering one feels like passing through security at Fort Knox.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about the heightened safety procedures that schools have established in the wake of a trail of school shootings. We also look at the costs and effects of having a larger police presence there.


Sam Zeff / KCUR

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, a lot has changed in the way police respond to a school shooter.

Squads no longer wait for SWAT teams to arrive. Now, they rush in to try and stop the shooter as quickly as possible.

CC: Lochoaymca

Educators, politicians, doctors and clergy all gathered in Kansas City Monday to discuss early childhood development.

Almost everyone agrees Pre-K education is crucial. The mantra for early educators is, "Talk, read, play."

Before they start kindergarten, teachers say, children need a lot of interaction with adults. Research shows that, on average, lower income children start school knowing 900 fewer words than more affluent children.

Christopher Sessums / Flickr--CC

Later this week the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will release Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test scores for every school in the state.

The state already released preliminary results for Kansas City Public Schools on Aug. 6 when DESE announced the district had been provisionally accredited. At that time DESE said Kansas City received 86 out of a possible 140 points. Enough for the board to accredit the district for the first time in two years.

Kansas students' scores on the ACT edged up slightly this year, with the statewide average outpacing scores nationally by about a point.

Missouri ACT scores also went up in 2014.

But even though the number of high school graduates who are ready for college has increased in recent years, less than a third of students in either state reached college benchmarks in the four subjects measured by the test.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

As the school year begins we're hearing a lot about accreditation, Common Core and teacher tenure. All important, but the issue that may worry educators the most is security. School officials spend a lot of time thinking about it and a huge amount of money trying to improve it.

Right now, about a third of all states allow teachers or staff with a conceal and carry permit to pack a gun in school as long as they have permission from the school board. Nowhere in America right now is the issue of armed teachers more complicated than in Missouri.

Laura Ziegler

Many of the schools in the Kansas City metro area began this week. As we look around and see students toting backpacks and boarding school busses, we take a look at what's universal about this "back-to-school" time of year with this audio postcard.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

For years, district schools, charter schools and private schools have all competed for students in Kansas City, Mo.

This fragmented education system is a result of years of mistrust between district residents and the struggling Kansas City Public Schools.

Now the district is provisionally accredited and pushing back against its reputation. It's launching new initiatives in hopes of winning families back.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This spring Kansas students will take a new standardized test aligned to the nationally crafted Common Core standards.

The test is for Kansas children only – last year state education officials dropped a plan to use the same test as 20 other states. Instead, Kansas is using a new exam, in development now at the University of Kansas.

"So is where you’re going to find everything we’re working on," says Marianne Perie, director of the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

This week, as most metro-area students head back to class, there's a fair amount of uncertainty for Missouri teachers who aren't sure what changes, if any, are coming to the Common Core academic standards they've been using for the past four years.

Elected officials have until October to name their picks for committees to review the state's academic standards. And depending on those committees' feedback, Missouri could have all-new standards in two years.

Or, schools could be given very similar expectations to the Common Core.

In many school districts, immigrant students with low English comprehension aren't always immediately identified as needing ESL (English as a Second Language) courses when they enroll. A new proposal in Kansas City, Missouri would help identify these students earlier so they have access to the assistance they need. We look at this program as well as the latest trends in ESL education. 


Children all over the metro are going back to school this week – Monday was the first day of school in the Kansas City Public School District. 

It’s been a long time since the sound of students echoed through the halls of Hale Cook Elementary School near 73rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Shut down in 2009 as the district went through a massive consolidation, parents in the Brookside neighborhood and the district have been working for the past two years to recruit enough families to re-open the building.

Lean Lab

The Sprint Accelerator, is a sleek, modern communal work space occupying two floors of an old brick building in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. It has white board walls and tables for entrepreneurs to sketch out their ideas. It features massive oddly shaped chairs, lots of sunlight, and the startup-requisite game room featuring indoor shuffleboard and foosball.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

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.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for an investigation into the way leaders at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management promoted the school.  

The Kansas City Star recently published a report indicating that UMKC's highly-touted Bloch School of Management's rankings might be misleading. Money's Kim Clark and Kaplan's Arthur Ahn discuss how publications rank universities, and what those rankings mean to prospective students and employers.


For-profit Anthem College has told the state of Missouri it plans to lay off 67 employees in the next two months.

The school has put up a notice on its website that its campuses in Kansas City, Fenton and Maryland Heights are no longer enrolling new students but it hasn't confirmed the college is closing down.

The news comes just weeks after for-profit Corinthian College announced it would sell or close dozens of schools, including the Everest College campus in Kansas City. For now, that school continues to enroll new students.

The Missouri State Board of Education says there's not enough data to approve Kansas City Public Schools' request for provisional accreditation.

The district says its test scores should be good enough to qualify for provisional accreditation next month when its annual performance review is released. But the district asked the State Board to act early, before the school year starts, so it won't lose more students to other districts.

As long as the district remains unaccredited, state law permits students to transfer to neighboring schools.

Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City Public Schools wants to close Southwest Early College Campus and transform the site into a new high school in partnership with French-immersion charter Academie Lafayette.

The district has been holding parent and community meetings this month to get feedback on the plan, which would require most current Southwest students transfer to other district schools. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Paseo Academy, 4747 Flora Ave., Kansas City, Mo.

A commission will be working over the coming months to look for possible ways Kansas schools could more efficiently use tax dollars.

The group is made up of former lawmakers, education officials and members of advocacy groups like the Kansas Policy Institute. Those factions don't always see eye-to-eye on education issues.

The group elected former advertising executive and Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams to head the commission. He says he'll be working to get everyone on the same page.

A Kansas school efficiency commission created by the Legislature met for the first time Friday. It was formed to find ways for schools to more efficiently use taxpayer money while improving the quality of education.

The group chose retired advertising executive and former Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams to head the commission.

"I think my opportunity is to help us get to the position where the entire state of Kansas can be comfortable with the recommendations we're going to make," says Williams.

Missouri parents and educators will take a closer look at academic standards as a result of legislation Gov. Jay Nixon signed Monday in what could be the state's first step away from Common Core.

An earlier version of the bill would have barred Missouri schools from implementing the Common Core. But now the state will use the nationally-crafted math and English language arts standards for at least two more years.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A new program is taking an entrepreneurial approach to tackling the longstanding problem of education in Kansas City, Mo. 

The Lean Lab at the Sprint Accelerator will announce six projects to help area schools Friday afternoon. 

For the past four weeks, fellows at the Lean Lab have been cooking up practical, simple ideas to reinvigorate education in Kansas City.

For example, one fellow is working on a grading system that will use smartphones and tablets to help track students' progress assignment by assignment. 

University Of Missouri Sets Fundraising Record

Jul 11, 2014
Courtesy photo / University of Missouri

Donors deposited a record-breaking amount of money into the University of Missouri’s coffers last fiscal year.

The university in Columbia, Mo., beat its 2013-14 fiscal year goal of raising $150 million by pulling in $164.5 million. The amount broke the previous record of $160 million raised in fiscal year 2008.

Thomas Hiles, ​MU vice chancellor for advancement, says the record is noteworthy because it was reached without mega gifts, which the university has received the previous two years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

There are roughly 2,300 child care providers in Missouri that don't have to follow any kind of health and safety regulations – a huge problem for parents trying to find suitable day care for their children.

"There are some folks out there who, either through negligence or circumstance, should not be in the business of providing child care," says Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, "and there's very little to stop them from setting up a sign,  throwing a swing set out back and calling themselves a childcare provider."

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says a staff survey of 440 colleges and universities regarding campus sexual assaults has found that 41 percent of those responding “have not conducted a single investigation in five years” despite allegations by possible victims.

That finding is disturbing, McCaskill told reporters Wednesday because it means those colleges "are saying there are zero instances of sexual assault, which is hard to believe."

City of Overland Park, Kan. / Flickr-CC

Professionals seeking advanced degrees from the University of Kansas will have five new opportunities from the Overland Park-based Edwards campus starting this fall. 

The five new degree programs are for graduate students in education, business, accounting and international studies.

Christine Falk, Edwards campus marketing coordinator, says that new academic programs should help spur a sense of community and personal growth in the area. 

The University of Missouri is expanding an early alert system that tracks academic performance to all four of its campuses this fall.

The system, developed by the company Starfish Retention Solutions, is designed to improve retention and graduation rates by better connecting students, faculty and staff.  

The expansion follows the success of a pilot program at the university's Columbia campus that gives advisors real-time grading information on students and tracks performance trends among classes and subjects.