The Lee's Summit R-7 School District is among 166 Missouri districts being designated as "District Improvement Level 1," based on requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. Although the goals of No Child Left Behind to ensure success for each child and to provide for school district accountability are worthwhile, the law has several flaws, especially in its accountability mechanism.
Like a number of the school districts receiving this designation, the R-7 School District has earned the state's coveted Distinction In Performance Award all six years it has been offered. In fact, the district is one of a handful of Missouri districts to earn this honor all six years with a perfect score each year. This year again, R-7 students scored above the state average in all areas on the 2007 Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests.
The R-7 School District's designation as "District Improvement Level 1" was based on the scores of a very small number of students in two small sub-groups â€“ special-education and English language learners (students who speak English as a second language) in the area of communication arts. These special-needs sub-groups are required to meet the same high standards on the Missouri Assessment Program communication-arts tests with no exam modifications that would take the students' disabilities or special language challenges into account. A misleading aspect of this legislation is that only districts with a large enough sub-group population can be identified, thus holding harmless smaller districts with similar or lower levels of achievement.
While the intent of No Child Left Behind is admirable, this particular component does not pass the "common sense" standard when the test scores of a small number of students â€“ less than 2 percent for Lee's Summit R-7 â€“ cause a successful school district to be placed in this category. Fortunately, the United States Congress plans to consider revisions to No Child Left Behind this fall, and it is possible that this aspect of the law may change. In the meantime, R-7 School District staff will continue to work tirelessly to meet the needs of each child.
To read a letter with additional information about this federal requirement from Dr. David McGehee, Lee's Summit R-7 School District superintendent, please visit the following web address: http://www.leesummit.k12.mo.us/pdf/parentinfo/ParentNotificationAug07.pdf.