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West County gets good grades on report card

West County students are more likely to stay in school, graduate from high school and find a job than the average student in the state, according to the West County school district’s 2004-2005 School Accountability Report Card.

Although only 41 percent of West County’s graduates have taken the ACT test, compared to 70 percent in the state, their average composite ACT scores are about the same (20.2 percent for the district, 21.6 for the state).

The annual report card compares Missouri’s and West County averages and percentages in several categories to give an indication of how well the fully accredited school district is doing. All information for the report cards came from school data that West County reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for the 2004-2005 school year.

In previous years, each school district published its own report. Last year, Missouri legislators decided that since the Department collected the information from all school districts, it should publish the reports on its Web site,

The state average for attendance is 94 percent, compared to 93.7 percent in West County. However, West County’s drop out rate is only 1.7 percent, compared to 3.8 percent in the state average. The report shows that 92.4 percent of West County students graduate, compared to 85.7 percent for the state. Job placement for vocational students is better than average (84.2 for West County compared to 81.2 for the state).

West County students scored higher than state averages for Missouri Assessment Programs tests in the math and communication arts tests at the 3,4 grade level, and in math at the high school level. The 7,8 grades tested lower than state averages in both subjects and the high school placed much lower (9.6 percent for West County compared to 22.9 for the state) in high school communication arts.

School Board President Clyde Briley said the lower scores were not what the district expected.

“It’s a concern, but we’re working on it,” he said. “We’re taking steps to improve those scores.”

West County students are more likely than their peers to enter a two-year college or post-secondary institution after high school, but are far less likely to go straight to a four-year college, the report indicates. According to the report, only 6.8 percent of West County students will head for a 4-year college, compared to the state average of 38 percent. However, 54.2 percent are likely to enter a two-year college than the 26.1 percent expected at the state level. Students are slightly more likely to enter a post-secondary institution that is not a college or university.

Briley said that the cost of a four-year education is often a factor in students choosing to go to a two-year community college. The state statistics do not address the number of students who pursue a bachelor’s degree after completing an associate’s degree at community college.

The district’s 991 K-12 population is 99.3 percent white, compared to the state average of 77.6 percent. In West County, 55.7 percent of students qualify for free-and-reduced lunches, compared to 41.8 percent in state averages.

In the district, 96.30 teachers have regular certificates, compared to 97.1 percent across the state. West County teachers have an average of 10.2 years of experience compared to state’s 12.8, and 19.3 percent have advanced degrees (above a bachelor’s degree) compared to the state average of 49.5 percent.

Average base salaries for West County teachers is $32,493 annually, compared to $39,066 for Missouri teachers. Administrators in the district make an annual average of $65,728 compared to $72,889 in the state. The salary rates do not include fringe benefits.

Teachers in the district have an average of 18 students per class, compared to the 1-19 ratio of teachers to students across Missouri. These numbers do not include special education, remedial reading, Title 1 and vocational teachers.

“Overall, we have a younger staff,” Briley said. “Once they get started with us, they pretty much tend to stay. We have a career ladder in place, and professional school development. We also help pay to get their advanced degrees.”

West County has a higher percent of state and federal revenues in its budget – 49.54 state and 18.03 federal, compared to the state average of 34.8 state and 9.5 federal. Local revenues for West County are 32.43 percent of the budget, compared to the state average of 55.7 percent.

The school district spends about $6,131.33 per student annually, while the average state cost per student based on average daily attendance is $7,679.

For more details of the report card, go to the DESE Web site, West County School District residents also may pick up a copy of the report from the superintendent’s office.

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