Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent, Mark Bedell, wants his school system to be an example.
"We want to become an exemplar and a model for how you really conduct school turnaround, in particular with a lot of children who come to school with variables up against them,” said Bedell.
For years, the school district has struggled with academics.
The district lost accreditation in 2011 and has been forced to close more than half of its schools. There has also been a revolving door of superintendents and school administrators over the last few years.
But in November, Bedell announced positive news. The school district, he said, was one step closer to gaining full accreditation. Kansas City Public Schools had received enough points on its 2016 Annual Progress Report.
"We're going to talk about our realities in Kansas City, a district that is pretty much 100% free and reduced students. And it's just really talking about some of the variables that our kids come to school with, but the fact that despite those variables, the school district has been continuing to make progress," Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said.
Bedell presented data that showed his district has more students learning English than any other in Missouri.
Many students are extremely behind academically, many are homeless, the overwhelming majority live in poverty, and many move from school to school.
"Really for me, it's about honing in on the social and emotional piece. The social and emotional deficiencies that our kids come to school with, and how do we as a state come together to provide more support in that area," Bedell said.
He is asking the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to consider those factors when they measure growth and success. He hopes their visit on Thursday showed the state how the school system is improving.
Missouri requires a minimum score of 70 out of 100 for full accreditation. KCPS scored exactly that.
Before the State Board changes KCPS' status, DESE officials will make a recommendation. Typically, DESE requires school districts to earn equal or better results for at least two consecutive years.
"We look at multiple annual performance reports. We also want to pay attention with stability and leadership, for example,” said Dr. Margie Vandeven, the Missouri Commissioner of Education.
Ariel Rothfield can be reached at Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.