No one can accuse the Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) of grade inflation. In its comprehensive assessment of all the 1300-plus public schools in Kansas, KPI gave an overall “A” grade to just one school in Kansas.
Drum roll please . . .
That school is Prairie Creek, an elementary school in the Spring Hill District. There is no catch here. Although KPI has assembled the data, the grading is based on state assessment data generated by the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP) under the auspices of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Prairie Creek Elementary School, which is located in southern Olathe, deserves its honors.
Always a high performer, Prairie Creek did particularly well this past year, upping its overall KPI grade from B to an A. Grades three through five tested well across the board, both for low income students and other students.
Low income students only make up 7 percent of the school population, but in both grades three and five they tested better than their more affluent peers in English Language Arts (ELA). There may be no other school in the state that can claim this.
In the three grades assessed, no group tested below a B in either ELA or math. The school’s “college and career ready” scores in ELA and math were a curve-busting 81 percent and 83 percent respectively.
Principal Jody Cole describes Prairie Creek as “a special school where students, parents, community and staff work together as a family to support and enhance learning.” At Prairie Creek such talk in not mere boilerplate. In five of the past ten years, the school has received the Governor’s Achievement Award for ranking in the top 5 percent of Kansas elementary schools.
One reason for the Prairie Creek’s success is that the school does not shy from testing its students. “Student data helps drive instruction,” the school web site tells us. “This assessment information is a valuable tool in helping your student reach his or her potential.”
The school is about more than just testing. The web site has features on students who competed in the district “Battle of the Books” and others who competed in the school’s talent show.
The school performs as well as it does without any special aid or gimmicks. Legislators might want to take a look and see if this kind of performance is scalable.