I encourage citizens to review the Webster Groves School District’s most recent board meeting and documents on its website. This is what the district views as success in its Student Learning Report:

In 2020-2021, only 45% of African American students scored above state standards for college readiness. That number has steadily declined for the past five years — it was 61.2% in 2016. The percentage of African American students scoring at proficient or above on state MAP tests in the third through eighth grade cohort is abysmal. In mathematics, the number is only 11% (down from nearly 50% just a few years ago). In English Language Arts, it sits at 22%, down from 38% in 2017. In science, it sits at 14%, down from 24%. This is success?

Instead, the board spent much of its time dismissing U.S. News and World Report’s most recent high school rankings — which show a precipitous decline for Webster relative to its peers — as due to “overwhelming emphasis on AP achievement.”

This is not only false (criteria here: www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/rankings-faq#3), but the data reinforces the racial achievement gap with only 2.8% of African American students enrolled in dual-credit classes and only 31.8% in AP classes receiving qualifying exam scores, relative to 75% overall.

But it’s not just African American students who are failing. Academic results are plummeting for all students in Webster. The pandemic has only made things worse. But it is not an excuse. They were plummeting beforehand, too.

Are the statistics above acceptable? Not one board member questioned this. If the current board refuses to hold the administration accountable for failure, then new citizen board members are needed in April.

Paula Juelich