Today’s Preliminary APR Release: What Can We Learn?

Photo by   Lukas   from   Pexels

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Today’s APR Release: What Can We Learn?

Annual Performance Report (APR) Summary Reports were released today by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). These reports are considered preliminary, as DESE is still calculating science scores. For now, the reports offer a “sneak peek” of the data that will go into each school or district’s complete APR, which, along with the science scores, will be released in late November. A previous PRiME blog explained how APRs are calculated, and in today’s blog, we hope to help parents, educators, and community members make sense of these preliminary reports.

Today’s reports look much different than they have in the past. Most notably, you will find color-coded bar graphs instead of an overall APR percentage or score. The reports present a visualization of a school or district’s “grades” on five standards, specifically overall and subgroup achievement on assessments from April 2019, as well as college and career readiness, attendance rate, and graduation rate from the 2018-2019 school year. Overall achievement scores for the state remained relatively unchanged from last year, with more than half of students scoring below grade level in both reading and math.

(Table 1: Directions for Accessing 2019 Annual Performance Summary Reports)

(Table 1: Directions for Accessing 2019 Annual Performance Summary Reports)

Using the directions in Table 1, you can access the preliminary APR Summary Reports for any district/charter or individual school of interest. Once you access the data, you will find a report similar to Figure 1 below. For the two achievement standards, DESE evaluates schools and districts on three different measures: Growth (left column in the Summary Report), Status (center column), and Progress (right column). To help you understand what these criteria mean, Table 2 provides definitions of each measure and the key for the color-coding. For all Status measures, the Summary Report also includes state averages (indicated by ▲ below each visualization) to help stakeholders compare the school or district to other schools and districts across the state. 

(Figure 1: Example of a 2019 APR Summary Report for Ritenour School District)

(Figure 1: Example of a 2019 APR Summary Report for Ritenour School District)

So how can we best use this information? If the data show high achievement or growth, particularly in an area that has been a primary focus for a district, that should be celebrated and highlighted. For example, Ritenour School District is “On Track” in the growth category (left column) for both reading and math achievement, and historically lower-performing subgroups of students (Standard 2) are “Exceeding” when you consider year-to-year growth. On the other hand, if there are areas of a school’s or district’s data that do not show high achievement or growth or that create concern for stakeholders, then districts could use those data points when planning for improvement and establishing goals. 

In addition to the online reports through DESE, PRiME will be providing data files for the key APR indicators in the coming weeks. For now, you can find a file with achievement data (Standard 1) for all 500+ districts in Missouri here! This file contains the 2018 and 2019 English Language Arts and Math achievement scores for all districts in Missouri and is searchable by district and region. Updated files with Standards 2-5 will be uploaded soon.  

DESE will also be presenting a report on the data next week to the State Board of Education. You can live stream the audio of the meeting starting at 9 am on Tuesday, October 22. For an overview of APR scores, read our recent blog on the topic. If you would like an in-depth explanation of how the growth, status, and progress scores are calculated, check out DESE’s Comprehensive Guide.

In the end, it is important that educational professionals and community members focus not only on achievement but also on whether students and schools are making progress. We hope that these preliminary reports will help shift the public conversation to growth and allow us to better see where our schools are doing well and where we are most in need of improvement. 


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