June is coming to a close and for school administrators that means reflecting on the school year that just passed while preparing for the opening of a new school year. It was a great year for the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS).
This past school year we had 600 families involved in Parents as Teachers, giving their infants and toddlers wonderful early learning experiences, and more than 900 three- and four-year-old children in preschool developed skills to be ready for kindergarten. Literacy continues to be a major focus. We ended the school year with 70 percent of our kindergarteners reading on grade level. Our elementary students are growing and learning with 55 percent meeting their growth goals in reading, 65 percent in math, and 66 percent in science. Middle school worked very hard as well. Seventy-eight percent of all 8th graders successfully completed high school level Algebra/Geometry, and 43 percent of these same students achieved college ready scores on the ACT-EXPLORE college readiness exam.
All five high schools focused on early college and technical college courses. More than 35 percent of seniors graduated earning 3 to 36 college credit hours! This year’s graduates visited college or technical college campuses, participated in career and technical education courses, and completed internships in business and industry to deepen career exploration and experiences. Nearly 100 students across the district graduated as Kansas Scholars, and every 8th grader, freshman, sophomore, and junior participated in the ACT college readiness exam (KCKPS is one of three districts in Kansas to use the ACT as our measure of success). Sumner Academy of Arts and Science has once again been ranked by national publications as the number-one high school in Kansas and 64th best in the nation. And let’s not forget that last September, our community and school district were recognized by the America’s Promise Alliance as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People!
It was a very good year. Certainly, as with all things worth doing, there are opportunities to improve. We are working closely with families to ensure that all students are reading and writing on grade level. We are focused on high school students graduating on time (currently 70% graduate in 4 years and 2.1 percent drop out); and our average ACT score must improve. Our advocacy for suitable state finance for schools has and must remain a priority.
KCKPS is already one of the best urban school districts in the nation. Few districts are improving as rapidly or are more focused on meaningful outcomes for students as we are here. I am so grateful to live and work in a community that puts education first. KCK realizes all good things worth having come from effort and determination. In KCKPS and KCK this effort and determination is witnessed every day by our “it’s up to us” way of approaching life. Well done, KCKPS! Thank you KCK for all the support and partnerships. “It’s Up to Us.”