Education in Greater Kansas City

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Kansas City Region

Today, we’re releasing our first annual Kansas City Regional Profile. Inside, you’ll find a description of the students, funding, and performance of both traditional public (TPS) and public charter school districts in the Greater Kansas City region for the 2017-2018 school year.

Students who live within the Kansas City Public Schools boundary are eligible either to attend a KCPS school or to apply to and enroll in one of the city’s twenty public charter districts. Charter schools range in size from 114 students at Hope Leadership Academy to 1,632 in the Frontier Schools. TPS districts range in size from 537 students in Archie R-V to 20,340 students in North Kansas City Schools.

Who are Kansas City’s students? Compared to the state, the Kansas City region serves a more racially diverse student body, and has a smaller population of Free/Reduced-Price Lunch (FRL) eligible students. Within the region, Smithville R-II serves the smallest population of FRL-eligible students, at 15% of its students. Both KCPS and Hickman Mills C-1 participate in the Community Eligibility Provision. Thus, these districts are shown to have 100% of students as FRL-eligible.

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How much do Kansas City districts spend? Districts in the region spend just over $100 less per student than the state average. Expenditures range from $8,763 per student in Pleasant Hill to $15,405 in West Platte. For charter schools, this per pupil amount ranges from $9,899 at Académie Lafayette to $27,481 at DeLaSalle Charter School. Schools and districts receive money from three sources: local taxes, state funds, and federal dollars. On average, Missouri’s funds are split 47% local, 43% state, and 10% federal, but this varies across the region and the state given that local funding impacts the amount of state aid a district or charter school receives. Districts in the  greater Kansas City region generate a higher fraction of their revenue locally, with 56% of dollars coming from the local tax base. These local amounts range from 86% in West Platte to 25% in Knob Noster, making Knob Noster the most state-dependent of the region’s districts.

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How much do Kansas City teachers make? The largest portion of a district’s or charter school’s budget is the salary and benefits paid to teachers and administrators. Here, we see rather large differences in the starting, average, and maximum salaries teachers can earn. West Platte has the highest starting salary for teachers in the region, as new teachers start at $40,000 per year. The district with the lowest starting salary is Lexington R-V, at $31,000, which also has the lowest average salary for teachers at $41,756. The district with the highest average salary in the region is Lee’s Summit R-7, which paid its teachers an average of $61,380 during the 2017-2018 school year. We find the largest disparity in teacher salaries between the maximum salaries teachers can earn. Adrian R-III’s highest salary is $53,100, whereas Lee’s Summit R-7 teachers can earn $87,444 with appropriate credentials and enough years of experience.

For charter schools, starting salaries range from $29,000 at Lee A. Tolbert Community Academy to $47,500 at Frontier Schools. DeLaSalle Charter School pays the lowest average salary ($38,863) and lowest maximum salary ($44,055) among charter schools in Kansas City. Académie Lafayette offers the highest average salary among charter schools at $51,779, while Allen Village pays the highest maximum salary at $78,005.

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How are Kansas City students doing? To measure school performance, we present multiple dimensions including percent of students scoring proficient and advanced on the state’s MAP assessment, average ACT Composite score, and graduation rate. The average graduation rate is 89% for the state and 91% for the region.


Both Lone Jack C-6 and Mid-Buchanan have a 100% high school graduation rate, which leads the region. The lowest high school graduation rate is 71% in KCPS. Hickman Mills C-1 has the lowest reported average ACT Composite score at 15.4 out of 36 possible points. Park Hill has the highest average ACT score at 22.1.


Data on ACT scores and graduation rates are only reportable for six of the charter districts in the region: Allen Village, DeLaSalle, Frontier, Guadalupe Centers, Hogan Prep, and University Academy, as these charter schools are the only schools serving grade levels that are considered in ACT scores and graduation rates. For eligible charter schools, the ACT scores range from 13.1 at DeLaSalle to 21.1 at University Academy. Graduation rates range from 35% to 100% in the charter districts in Kansas City.

 Missouri has undergone multiple standards and testing changes over the last decade but has finally settled on a re-designed version of the MAP assessment that is based on state-designed learning standards. The first iteration of the new test was administered in the 2017-2018 school year. The percentage of students in the Kansas City network scoring proficient and advanced on the English (51%) and Math (44%) assessments is slightly above the statewide averages (49% and 43%, respectively). However, these simple percentages make it difficult to determine the year-to-year gains in each of these districts and across the state. Unfortunately, results from the new tests are not directly comparable to the previous years’ data, but we look forward to being able to make these comparisons again with results from the 2018-2019 school year.

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Preliminary descriptive analyses of these publicly-available test score achievement data show predictable patterns in district performance. Unsurprisingly, we see a strong negative relationship between district performance and the number of FRL-eligible students enrolling. This negative relationship between student performance and student need is similar when examining average ACT scores and high school graduation rates.


Another district characteristic having a negative impact on school performance is student mobility rate, defined as the percentage of students who change schools during the year. Districts with higher mobility rates routinely have lower percentages of students who score proficient or advanced on both the English and Math MAP assessments, have lower average ACT scores, and have lower high school graduation rates. The connection is strongest between high mobility rates and low graduation rates, showing the importance of stability and consistency in where students learn helps students to learn.

It is important to note that this publication has only scratched the surface of  the education landscape in the greater Kansas City region. These districts and charter schools are extremely diverse and spread across a large area of the state. While the TPS districts have all joined together in a collaborative network (Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City), the needs in each district are extremely diverse. Along with that, we have provided a view of only district characteristics using publicly available data, which tells a part of the story. It is likely true we would uncover even more interesting patterns and information for schools both within and across the districts. Along with being accessible on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s data portal, we have made these data available on our website. We hope these profiles and datasets provide some useful information about education in the greater Kansas City region and inform the conversation to ensure each district is able to help all students realize their full potential.


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