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New Coalition Works to Improve Kansas City Area School Districts

MU will work with three other schools to identify educational problems in more than 30 school districts.

Nov. 23, 2009

Story Contact(s):
Kelsey Jackson, JacksonKN@missouri.edu, (573) 882-8353

Jay Scriber, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the MU College of Education

Jay Scribner, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the MU College of Education. Director of the Hook Center for Educational Leadership and District Renewal.

COLUMBIA, Mo. –The University of Missouri and the University of Kansas usually aren’t on the same team, but now, along with two other universities, they are pooling resources, research capacity and expertise to help Kansas City school districts. The Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium (KC-AERC) is a coalition of universities that will investigate educational problems in more than 30 Kansas City area school districts and make recommendations for improvements.

“This coalition could make a huge difference in the educational system by identifying problems in the school districts and analyzing them through a variety of academic lenses,” said Jay Scriber, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the MU College of Education. “KC-AERC will study real-life problems in the school districts and provide useful information through rigorous research to area school districts. We can then funnel what we learn back to the school districts, so they can implement change.”

With an initial $800,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation, KC-AERC will utilize the research strengths of the MU, KU, Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City to find ways that schools can improve student success.  Researchers will use data from Missouri and Kansas’ departments of education, school districts and date collected by the consortium to answer important questions, such as how well students transition to higher education, the effectiveness of specific curricular programs, and issues surrounding teacher quality. The coalition also will help school districts track students who move often to better serve students who move frequently within the region. 

“The information we collect will provide a bigger picture of educational issues across school districts, rather than of focusing on issues on a school-to-school basis,” Scribner said. “School districts often don’t have ways to communicate about what is and isn’t working. KC-AERC has the opportunity to take data from one school district and compare it with data from another school district. This will give researchers and school districts a better idea of what is currently working and how schools can improve.”

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