Many Kansas City students hitting the books during spring break

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It may be Spring Break for public students in Kansas City, Missouri but that won't keep 1,350 kids from hitting the books this week.

Nearly every school in the district is hosting a three-day Spring Break school session this week. The sessions are aimed to target students with low test scores throughout the district, but are open to all kids.

At the Foreign Language Academy in Kansas City, 88 kids were invited to special small group three-hour sessions which begin Tuesday. The district reached out to some parents because their child scored low on standardized tests, but hundreds of other students at the school are working on homework packets during break.

Surprisingly, some kids said they didn't mind the extra work because studying makes them feel more confident.

"I think it's good for us because of course you're on spring break having a little fun but you don't want to forget about what you're learning about and we have a big test coming up so it's important we stay on task with what we're doing at school", said 6th grader Andrew Valdivia. His younger brother Henry, who is in fourth grade, chimed in, "It's really important to my mom. She doesn't want me to flunk or anything so I try to push myself a lot".

Both Andrew and Henry came to the Foreign Language Academy on Monday, despite having the day off, to stack books, construct shelves and build education tools like bulletin boards.

Clean and organized environments are two factors of many the state education board looks at when reassigning accreditation to school districts. Andrew Valdivia says while he doesn't quite understand accreditation, he knows he loves his school, and had to help.

"We're trying to get accreditation so we are helping out the school and we're cleaning up the building so accreditation is possible. I love my school and my teachers and I know we need to get accreditation back," he explained.

In 2011, the district only met three of the 14 standards in the state's report and low test scores were a big issue.

This is just one of many new initiatives by the Kansas City Public School District to increase test scores and regain accreditation.

The district says these sessions are vital preparation for the Missouri Assessment Program (or MAP) tests which begin in April.

Carol Allman, principal at Foreign Language Academy, says she was impressed by the number of students and parents who signed up.

"A lot of people say parents are the third leg in a triad of success between the parents, school and the student. The parents certainly are supportive of the education the students are receiving, and we're working hard to get all kids up to the bar," she noted.

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