School district seeing students achieve higher test scores



Students in the USD500 district are hungry to learn







Students and teachers in the USD500 school district are making the grade with higher test scores.



BY JOE ARCE AND DEBRA DeCOSTER


Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust set a goal to encourage students to be avid readers and learners in school. His goal has been to give the students in the USD500 school district the opportunity to seek college after high school graduation and to enter the work force and compete for competitive salaries.

Foust credits a realigned focus and reallocated resources with turning the student’s test scores around. New data released from the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP) interim assessment data shows a significant gain in proficiency rates in English Language Arts and Mathematics from the spring of 2018 to the spring of 2019 by students in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

The progression is at least 10 percentage points higher than the 2017-2018 school year. The summative assessment also shows that math scores have more than doubled from 2016 to 2020. In one year’s time, the scores have improved in English Language Arts from 14.3 % to 18.6% Mathematics has gone from 11.4% to 17.6% and Science jumped from 13.9% to 17.8%

In an exclusive interview with Hispanic News the superintendent said, “We have great students here and our students are showing daily that they can compete.” Dr. Foust is excited to see that the test scores of the students have been on the rise. He is eager for the students in the district to engage in learning and be competitive with other schools.

“Our parents send our students to learn, what we are doing is giving them what they come to school for…learning power. When we posted our scores from last October, that was an exciting time, we see the improvement…it keeps getting better,” Foust said.

The state of Kansas provides interim assessments three times during the school year to forecast student performance on the spring summative assessment. The assessment helps schools identify areas where professional development can help improve teaching and learning.

While the data is encouraging for the district, they recognize there is still work to be done to ensure that each and every student is making academic progress towards proficiency and being “On Track” for college and career readiness.

“The interim assessment shows continued progression moving students out of the lowest performance level and ensuring more students are ‘On Track’ to being proficient. Most importantly, this shows the positive results of what focused leadership can do in each school throughout the district,” said Dr. Foust.

Patty Jurich, President of the PTA of the Kansas City Kansas Council was thrilled with the latest report.

“It is a good feeling to see this improvement. It is a good start, we can continue to do better, parents need to realize that we as parents need to make sure that our kids get enough sleep at night, that they are fed so they can function, they should have a positive outlook, they should know they are going to school for a reason…that they are there to learn, not there to argue with the teachers. Our children need to realize that the teachers are there to help them, our students need to come to school ready to learn and have the tools they need so they can learn,” she said.

Superintendent Foust is excited to let the Kansas City, Kansas community know that the kids are getting what they come to school for and that is learning.

Jurich agrees with the Superintendent and is happy to see the turn around in the students’ test scores.

“You want to see improvements for your children and grandchildren. Any time the test scores go up, that is a positive. I am happy that the scores are going up in the right direction,” she stated.

Foust told Hispanic News that the students in the USD500 district are hungry to learn. “When you have low performing schools, the morale is low, and no one sees the light. When you make a positive gain, people want to come and work for you. I think we can hire teachers based on the data.

When we show the data at the end of the year, we can recruit more substitute teachers and more qualified teachers. We want to keep that teaching going. It is a new year and I am loving it,” said Foust.

As Superintendent, he understands the importance of spending dollars in instruction for students.

“I believe that kids can achieve success. I believe that the teacher has the support that is needed. When a teacher believes that a student can learn, it changes the game.”