FHSD earns an A in new grading system

It’s a grade to hang up on the refrigerator; the Francis Howell School District has been given a 96.4 percent on a recent evaluation under the state’s new system of rating

But what does it mean? The new system does away with the previous 14-point system and replaces it with a “report card” method with a possible 140 points.

Under the previous system, more than 80 percent of districts met at least 13 of 14 standards for K-12 districts, which was contradicted by the fact that more than half of Missouri students were not passing the state’s tests for Communication Arts and Math. The new test takes into account factors such as MAP and ACT/SAT scores, AP classes, career education placement, college placement, graduation rate, attendance, and subgroup performance, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“It’s a bit premature to decide whether the new system ‘works,’” Principal Sonny Arnel said. “But the factors [taken into account] are good.”

Whether the system works or not, it’s clear that the Francis Howell School District has been recognized for having excellent schools. In comparison to FHSD’s 96.4 percent, Fort Zumwalt received a 92.9 percent, St. Charles was given 86.8 percent, Pattonville got an 82.9 percent, and Rockwood a 92.9 percent.

According to Chief Academic Officer Mary Hendricks-Harris, the Francis Howell School District hit the highest possible targets in English/Language Arts, Science, ACT scores, Advanced courses (AP classes), as well as attendance.

“FHSD has made a large gain [score-wise] and has a very strong graduation rate as well,” Mrs. Hendricks-Harris said.

However, there is of course still room for improvement.

“Students must continue to take the most rigorous courses possibile,” Mrs. Hendricks-Harris said.

Regarding the district at large, Mrs. Hendricks-Harris encourages more challenging content to be provided for students, as well as expanding immediate interventions for struggling students.

However, Dr. Arnel believes that while the score itself is a good thing, it also reflects the effort and dedication of the faculty and staff.

“[Our grade] keeps us aware that Francis Howell Central is a great place,” Dr. Arnel said. “It shows the commitment of our staff and educators to ensuring that our school is an effective and safe learning environment.”

While it may be a bit soon to say whether or not the new grading system is a success, the Francis Howell School District’s standing among its neighbors is and should be a source of pride, according to Dr. Arnel.