School leaders propose alternative to MO student transfer law

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(KTVI)-Missouri education leaders are proposing an alternative to the current school transfer law that is impacting some St. Louis area school districts.

Current state law allows students to transfer out of unaccredited school districts to nearby districts. Unaccredited districts are required to pay the costs of tuition and transportation for students who leave.  Currently, students in the Normandy and River Gardens school districts in Missouri have been allowed to transfer to other schools.

But the group says failing schools need early intervention and help from outside management. They feel that bussing students away from their home schools and communities is harmful to those students and to the students and failing schools they leave behind.

The group determined that the under-performing school should be the focus, rather than the school district.  They propose four levels of accreditation for school districts.

  • At the fully accredited level, no state intervention would occur.
  • The second level would be provisionally accredited, where a thorough review of the district would occur showing where improvements can be made.  Students in unaccredited schools within that district would have the option of transferring to other higher performing schools in that district.  If the school does not improve within five years, it is moved to the third level of accreditation.
  • The proposed third level of accreditation would be “academically stressed.”  Underperforming schools within the district would come under the control of an “achievement district,” controlled by a state-appointed board. The state could take over all schools in the district, or leave better performing schools under the control of the local board.
  •  If a district was still “academically stressed” after five years, the district would be dissolved, and its students would be transferred to accredited districts.

The group was brought together by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA), the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis and the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City.