12 Years Later: Revisiting the 2003 Report
The 2003 Closing the Gap Plan was developed as part of the 2002 Strategic Plan and was submitted to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in lieu of a scheduled MSIP review. Objectives centered on student achievement and the plan included Essential Questions and Essential Commitments over recommendations for systemic change.
The 2003 Essential Commitments laid out plans for supporting students, staff, and parents. While the ideas within each commitment ring true today, our understandings about interventions, instructional strategies, and family engagement are much more developed and complex than they were thirteen years ago.
No Child Left Behind, enacted in 2001 as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was starting to impact decisions in schools by 2003. With NCLB came the idea of subgroups, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), and the threat of sanctions if schools did not ensure sufficient achievement for all segments of their student population. While NCLB had many negative and unintentional effects, it made it impossible to ignore achievement gaps that occurred within a school or district that was otherwise viewed as “successful.” What was measured became even more important, and significant time, money, and resources eventually were put into supporting all students who struggled with academics and/or social-emotional behaviors. Problem solving and our response structures have shifted in the district over the last ten years, initially in early childhood and elementary schools and more recently at the secondary level.
The historical significance of our past reports cannot be ignored, nor can the contextual similarities across the last twenty-five years. Given our recent history, one cannot help but wonder what makes our current plan any different – or why we might expect different results than we’ve had in the past. Those questions have been squarely on the mind of many in our community – even those on our task force. Several people who’ve been integral to the work in 2015-16 have been giving their time and energy to eliminating Kirkwood’s gap for twenty-five years or more. Some had to be convinced to participate at all, understandably disheartened by results of the past.