KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri State Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday to restore full accreditation to Kansas City Public Schools.
It’s been more than 20 years since the district was last fully accredited, and one state board member called the district’s performance awful at that time, with hundreds of students suffering as a result.
In restoring the district’s full accreditation, many credited the leadership of Superintendent Mark Bedell, who’s been on the job for nearly six years, longer than any other Kansas City superintendent in the last 53 years.
Bedell was in the capital city Tuesday, but he also was at J.A. Rogers Elementary School later that afternoon where he came back to a hero’s welcome.
“One of the things I said to the State Board Earlier today was that this just wasn’t easy,” Bedell said at Rogers Tuesday. “It’s hard. This school district is hard.”
In 2000, KCPS became provisionally accredited. The district has had nine superintendents and interim superintendents since 2000. It’s also gone from 35,000 students to around 14,000.
In September 2011, the district became unaccredited altogether based on performance data and a lack of student growth.
KCPS became the first school district in the country to lose accreditation. In August 2014, it became provisionally accredited again after the school district started showing improvement in both English Language Arts and Mathematics.
Finally Tuesday, KCPS got its full accreditation back.
Bedell gave credit to the previous school boards and superintendents prior to his arrival in 2016. They were here for what he called, the ‘good, bad, and the ugly’ days.
“Here’s the truth everybody,” he said to the crowd Tuesday. “People are standing up and applauding me, I wasn’t here for the horrific experiences that people had. By the time I got here, things had settled down with the board. We were more together. We had regained provisional accreditation. We were financially stable.”
That consistency in leadership combined with a focus on improving student outcomes resulted in the state recognizing the progress the school district has made in digging itself out from a deep, deep hole.
The state board was clear in saying Kansas City Public Schools are still not where they need to be.
The district needs to continue to improve to meet all Missouri standards, including MAP test results.
Many are thankful that Kansas City schools no longer have an environment where a new superintendent is hired every year or so at a hefty six figure salary, and then takes the money and runs, leaving students and schools to fall further and further behind.