Kansas City Schools Committed to Improving Achievment

Families in the Kansas City Schools know that the district faces issues of helping all its students achieve high standards. While this is a problem nationwide, the students attending Kansas City Schools are in luck. The leaders of Kansas City Schools have committed themselves, since 2003, to raising achievement levels at every single middle and high school throughout the district.

Completely overhauling the secondary school system, district leaders are working to ensure that all students will be prepared for post-secondary education and high-quality careers.

This plan, and the related framework, is called Achievement First, otherwise known as AF. This plan strives to improve secondary Kansas City Schools in three areas:

- Small Learning Communities

- Family Advocacy

- Improved Instruction

But there are always questions with any well-intended initiatives. What exactly are the meanings of these strategies? How valuable are these strategies, and how realistic are the improvements they strive for?

First of all, it is important to define each of these areas. The Kansas City Schools website describes them as follows:


"These interest-themed Small Learning Communities (SLCs) are '[Kansas City Schools] schools within a school" where groups of students and teachers build meaningful relationships and engage in quality learning experiences tied to the Community theme. Each SLC includes no more than 350 students from grades 9-12 and 15 Kansas City Schools faculty members across all content areas. Students select their SLC prior to 9th grade, stay in the same SLC throughout high school, and take most of their courses with students and teachers from their Community."


"Family Advocacy pairs students and families with a [Kansas City Schools] staff member who works as the student's advocate throughout his or her enrollment at the school. Advocates help students achieve their academic goals and give families consistent contact with school staff members who know their child well."


"Through AF, Kansas City Missouri School District teachers create rigorous classroom learning environments supported by targeted and ongoing professional development. [Secondary Kansas City Schools] students receive additional support in mathematics and literacy so they can actively participate in and complete rigorous academic courses."

The strategy of implementing Small Learning Communities within Kansas City Schools is a good one. Breaking kids into like-minded groups will help foster unity among the students, and will also increase their achievement. They will not be bogged down with classes that do not meet their interests and planned course of study.

Family Advocacy is a unique and admirable strategy that Kansas City Schools are using to improve the achievement levels of the students. Similar to a college advisor, the faculty member that is assigned to each family gives the parents a contact person to keep in touch. This is a great way to keep families involved, when they typically step back and do not take as large a part in their children's schooling.

Improving Teaching and Learning is definitely a realistic and "doable" goal. Continuing education for Kansas City Schools teachers as well as any tutoring and extra help students might need to meet the high standards of their classes is completely necessary in order to improve student achievement.

It is obvious that Kansas City Schools are doing everything they can to improve the achievement of their secondary students.