Report: Attendance in Columbia schools is up, discipline down

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia Public Schools credit a new middle school model implemented for the 2013-2014 school year for higher attendance and a lower number of disciplinary incidents.

CPS officials said combing grades six through eight and combining 9th grade with 10th-12th grades has opened the doors for more students to get involved.

"One of the goals was to be able to create more opportunities for students; opportunities to participate in athletics and fine arts and become more involved in their school," said Michelle Baumstark with Columbia Public Schools. "And by doing that, I think we've seen the direct impact to not only the discipline incidents that are occurring, but also an improvement in attendance."

In 2012, the percent of students attending 90 percent or better was 86.18 percent. In 2013, it went up to 87.69 percent.

As far as disciplinary incidents, in 2012, the district recorded 1,204 out of school suspension incidents. In 2013, there were 887 recorded.

"We all know that when kids are involved in school, they tend to behave better, show better attendance and become more involved," Baumstark said.

She said because students are more evenly divided among the schools instead of a large number of students put in one big building, student have more options.

"It's very, very competitive and while you may be wonderful, you may not be wonderful enough and so this really creates more opportunities for them to be able to participate in some of those athletics and fine arts programs that maybe they would not have been able to otherwise," Baumstark said.

She said this was the district's ultimate goal when the new model was implemented.

"When kids don't have enough to do, they'll find something to do and in this case, we are able to keep them involved in activities that are school-based," Baumstark said.

The report shows participation in sports in high school has increased 28.4 percent and in middle school participation has increased 64 percent.

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