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Old 11-30-2011, 03:53 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
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I posted this thread a couple of years ago, but thought I would update it...

I’m starting this thread because I think it will come in handy for people that are interested in moving to KC and want a comprehensive idea of the lay of the land when it comes to schools. This can be a “go-to” thread for questions about metro KC school districts on both sides of the state line. Hopefully people will find this thread via search engines etc.
Here is a map of metro KC’s school districts with a listing of how area high schools are ranked by greatschools.com below it. I updated the rankings from the last time I posted this and made a note if the ranking changes by more than two.

The reading scores map and high school stats can be used as a basic guide, but each district should be looked at more closely as to the actual schools you will be near or the demographics of a specific part of a school district. Some districts may have a wider variety of demographics that might slightly bring down stats, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still get just as good of an education there as any district.

Northeast High 1
Central High 1
University Academy 8
Hogan Prep Academy 5
Hope Academy 3
East High 1
Genesis 2
Lincoln Prep 9
Alta Vista Charter High 3
Tobert Academy 1
Delasalle Charter High 1
Paseo High 2
Don Bosco 1

Center High 4
Southwest 1
Ruskin High 1

Blue Springs High 7
Blue Springs South High 6 (dropped from 8)
Lee's Summit High 8
Lee's Summit North High 9
Lee's Summit West High 9
Grain Valley High 6
Fort Osage High 6
Truman High 8 (up from 6)
Van Horn High 4 (up from 1 after joining Independence)
William Chrisman High 5
Independence Academy 1
Raytown High 3
Raytown South High 3
Grandview High 2
Raymore High 8 (up from 6)
Harrisonville High 6
Oak Grove High 6
Belton High 5
Pleasant Hill High 5
Lone Jack High 8
Midway High 5

Park Hill High 9
Park Hill South High 10 (up from 8)
North KC High 4
Oak Park High 5
Staley High 9 (up from 5, new school started out low)
Winnetonka High 4
Liberty High 5 (down from 7)
Liberty North High 6
Smithville High 8 (down from 8)
Platte County High 7
Kearney High 7
Excelsior Springs 7 (up from 5)
North Platte High 7

Shawnee Mission East 10
Shawnee Mission North 5
Shawnee Mission Northwest 8
Shawnee Mission South 8
Shawnee Mission West 5
Blue Valley 9
Blue Valley Northwest 7
Blue Valley North 10
Blue Valley West 9
Olathe Northwest 7
Olathe East 8
Olathe North 5
Olathe South 7
De Soto 9
Mill Valley 9
Gardner High 8
Spring Hill 8

Sumner High 7
Wyandotte High 1
Harmon High 1
Washington High 2
Fairfax High 1

Piper High 4
Schlagle High 1
Turner High 2
Bonner Springs High 4
Lansing High 6
Leavenworth High 3
Basehor-Linwood High 6
Tonganoxi High 8

Lawrence High 5
Freestate High 6
Eudora High 9

Below is a map of the districts in and near the city of KCMO

Central Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, MO is home to one of the worst urban school district in the county. There is no getting around it. The KCMOSD is simply a mess, but it only covers the very central part of the city. Even though there are some good schools in the district, the district overall has some major issues. The district includes all of the poorest parts of the urban core and those that run the district have run it into the ground because of race and political issues. For the most part, stay away unless you know the schools you will be dealing with are ok. If you want to live in the nicer areas of urban KCMO rather than the suburbs, there are some good public schools as well as many great private schools, many of which are attended by suburban children. Urban KCMO also has many charter schools to choose from. KCMO has some amazing urban areas where many families live and most of those families could easily choose to move to the burbs if they wanted to, but like living in the city. So, please don’t let the KCMO School district keep you from living in the city if that is the lifestyle you enjoy and if you play your cards right, you can take advantage of the good public and charter schools in the central city such as Lincoln Prep.

Inner Suburban

The districts bordering the KCMOSD have more “urban” problems than the outlying districts. Center and Hickman Mills both have some urban baggage and social issues, but nothing that can’t be overcome. Not everybody can afford to live in the Northland or other newer suburbs.

The residents of Independence voted several years ago to absorb many schools that were once in the KCMOSD into the Independence School District including Van Horn High School. So far by most accounts it has been a great success story and the residents and school district of that city should be proud of what they have accomplished.

The Grandview district, which serves the Martin City and Red Bridge areas of KCMO, is a decent district as well, but covers a very wide demographic spectrum so you really need to drill down to the neighborhood to analyze the district. Same with Raytown which serves much of far eastern kcmo, but also serves many suburban areas.

Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs are probably the top two in Jackson County, mostly because they are very large suburban districts that offer a lot to students and the overall demographics are going to be higher.

Northland suburbs

You can also live in the city limits of KC and be in some of the best public school districts in the state. The “Northland”, which is a fast growing area, has many fine districts to choose from. Liberty, Park Hill, NKC and Platte County are all great suburban school districts. The Northland includes Kansas City, North (portion of KCMO that lies north of the river), but it's a suburban area.

Therefore, while Metro KC geography is confusing to many people, one thing to keep in mind is that many districts besides the KCMOSD serve the city of KCMO including many respected suburban districts. Many of these districts are within 10-15 minutes of downtown.

Here is the Northland. Kansas City is the primary city in this growing suburban area, but other cities include Liberty, Gladstone, NKC, Parkville and Riverside.

Johnson County, KS

JoCo has very good schools and is covered well by the large Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts. All three are consistently top ranked districts. Blue Valley covers one of the Midwest’s most affluent areas and Shawnee Mission and Olathe cover pretty average suburban areas. JoCo also has the Desoto, Gardner and Spring Hill districts which are more exurban or semi rural, but still very good districts.

Wyandotte County, KS

I don’t know much about districts in WyCo, Maybe some locals can help out with this? I have heard that the KCK district is much better than the KCMO district, but some stats say otherwise. Like the KCMOSD, they too have a very good public high school (Sumner).

I understand I am not proving much information on Kansas side school districts, but I can't find many maps and can't really talk about the districts in detail because I don't know them as well as the MO side. So PLEASE, if you have maps, links or personal info about the KS side or anything else I have posted here, add to the thread.

Last edited by kcmo; 11-30-2011 at 04:05 PM..
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:50 PM
15 posts, read 56,038 times
Reputation: 15
Thank you! That's a really helpful map (the first one especially was useful for me).
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:50 PM
Location: Golden, CO
2,108 posts, read 2,422,797 times
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I remember when you did this a few years ago. In fact I have referred to it many times as I contemplated where to move to in the Metro. Thanks for updating it.

Unfortunately, as I have done my own research, I have found that I really don't find Great Schools ratings very useful to me, especially when comparing schools across state lines because the ratings are based on scores of each state's standardized test scores. And from what I've read, it appears MO state assessment is a little more rigorous than KS. For example, see this report: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard...es/2011458.pdf

And for me personally, I don't care as much how the entire student population did on a standardized test, as I care about how well my kids will do there. My kids are likely to be participating in the gifted programs. I want to know that they are not going to be slowed down or held back in their learning to wait for struggling students to catch up. I want to make sure they have lots of interesting elective offerings in high school. I want to make sure my kids are properly prepared to compete with other kids from great schools back East at the best universities. I want them to have a global perspective. So, I don't really care that 90% of the students were deemed proficient (a very low standard) on that state's standardized test. I want to know how many AP or IB classes are offered and how well the kids did on AP and IB tests as an indication of how well the teachers prepared them. I also want to know what the school environment is like (i.e., how much violence and intimidation is there, how bad are cliques, how much diversity, etc).

Now a lot of that information is available. One can find the number of AP offerings on the Great Schools website, and one can find out additional information by reading each school's handbook online, etc. But, there is no single metric by which to compare schools this way, at least not for the schools around here. Those magazines that list best schools in the nation list at most a small number of schools from our area and their criteria is often of limited usefulness to me as well.

With all of that said the Great Schools rating is one data point. In general, I think my kids are likely to do better in a school rated 9 or 10 than a 4 or 5 school, but can the top performers at a school rated 6 get as good of an education as the top performers at a school rated 9? Maybe, it depends on other factors.

Then one has to factor in things such as Lincoln Prep being a great school in the middle of a district that is not fully accredited. Might that cause problems in getting accepted into colleges or scholarships? And what does one do if one's kids don't get into Lincoln Prep and has to go to another school in the district? Also, what kind of experience are the kids in for at the crappy elementary schools waiting until they are old enough to go to Lincoln Prep? Do I really want to pay for private school for four kids for the chance to go to a great school like Lincoln Prep? There is that free French immersion school, but again what if your kids don't get in because there isn't space.

Similar questions can be asked about Sumner High in Wyandotte County.

How does one compare say Park Hill South with Shawnee Mission Northwest or South? Can a top performing child really get as good an education and experience in both? And what about Lee's Summit schools?

I think I have pretty much decided that if I end up getting a job in the Metro, I'd like to live in the Park Hill School District, preferably Park Hill South. I like the personality of the area, and one can buy nice houses at a good price, and taxes aren't as high as they are in Johnson County.

But, I understand that other school districts and other considerations might be a better fit for others.

Last edited by Hueffenhardt; 11-30-2011 at 06:44 PM..
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:11 PM
Location: Middle America
35,817 posts, read 39,334,463 times
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By nature of my job, I have worked with nearly every school district listed above (Platte Co, Belton, and Spring Hill are the only districts I haven't had any direct experience with, in some way or another), and can vouch for the fact that it's quite a range, in terms of quality of education.

Honestly, speaking as an educator (and former student who excelled in a poor, rural district and wen ton to college where I was easily competitive with grads of wealthy suburban districts), good students are good students, wherever they are. There are of course other factors, but bright kids will excel wherever they are, because there's so much more that goes into high-achieving levels of learning and academic performance than just what takes place at school, and most kids who excel come from homes that support that.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:32 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
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I agree 100 percent with the last two posts.
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Old 12-01-2011, 07:30 AM
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,064 posts, read 27,204,220 times
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Speaking of people trying to win the contest, eh kcmo?

Unfortunately, as I have done my own research, I have found that I really don't find Great Schools ratings very useful to me, especially when comparing schools across state lines because the ratings are based on scores of each state's standardized test scores.
This is a key problem for a lot of bi- and tri- state metros, and definitely worth pointing out. As someone who took MAP tests in the early years, I can vouch for the fact that they're actually quite hard -- we're not talking some fill-in-the-bubble type stuff -- we were graded on written answers. I've never been entirely convinced these tests can be totally objective and free from bias honestly, but perhaps that's a conversation for another day.
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:34 AM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
Reputation: 5405
Originally Posted by aragx6 View Post
Speaking of people trying to win the contest, eh kcmo?
Well, I'm not going to win any contest. I **** off too many people .

I have dozens of posts like this, dating back many years. I just don't don't do them much anymore because they get picked apart and a flame war starts.

Anyway, to keep this on topic.

Does anybody know the difference between KS and MO standardized tests? Are they really that different?

When I updated the high school rankings, none of the KS side schools changed since the last time I posted this while probably more than half of the MO side schools changed by at least one number.

I'm not sure if that means the KS side is more stable in these rankings or if great schools just have not received any data from KS to update their rankings. I find it difficult to believe that not a single school has changed, so I'm guessing they just don't have recent data.

But like others have said, all of these stats are just a quick starting point for comparing schools and districts and may not really hold a lot of water. I'm confident my kids would excel just as well at a school ranked a 4 as a school ranked a 10. While a school may have an overall lower test score, the kids that are properly raised and want to learn should be just fine. Obviously some of the schools in real bad areas have other issues such as crime, gangs etc though.
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Old 12-01-2011, 10:25 AM
34 posts, read 124,147 times
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How about area school districts have a 10 year plan to take over specific schools over time. Center School district could take over Southwest high and incorporate their culture and academics into that school. It would be a bite size amount of work rather than trying to recover the entire school district at once. Independence could take over another few schools, and so could raytown. Heck lets add a couple schools to the north kansas city school district that are close to downtown KCMO.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:09 PM
216 posts, read 524,956 times
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I want to respectfully disagree with the posts about good students being competitive regardless of the schools they attend. I understand that may be the case for the posters and their children, but I have seen lots of students who did very well in very poor high schools and get the jolt of their lives when they get to college. It is a sad situation. I have encountered students in remediation in college, who tell me they were in honor classes in their schools. And the saddest part, the variation is vast on a school to school basis, not simply district to district.
I agree, lots of learning goes on at home. And this is where the inequality really comes in. I would never let my kid think they were doing well in a school that didn't challenge them. I would make them do more, have higher expectations for them. But when a student doesn't have family members who can help them discern the true quality of the education they are receiving, the results can be disastrous.
This probably won't affect the OP at all... you know what you are doing in your school search for your kids. I respect that. And I understand and respect your position as well TabulaRasa. I am simply saying, lots of kids are being "left behind." I think the numbers are actually pretty shocking. And the KC school districts on both sides of the state line are probably guilty. It is a disgrace that a city like KCMO cannot get it together to provide decent schooling for kids in its public system. I wish someone could explain how it got this bad. I have definitely seen bad schools in other places, but the difference here is how pervasive the problem is. Aside from a handful of charters, I don't see anyone getting a really good education in the KC district, and that is a disaster for the city.
I know this conversation is pretty much over, but this is an issue that haunts me every day. I love my home in KCMO, but I often wonder how wise it was to buy a house in a neighborhood where I could not send my kids to the public schools if I had to. Not to mention what it does to my resale and property values. But, we had our reasons and we feel good about our decision, so we just have to hope for the best in the future. We will find a way to work it out, no matter what. But many people in this city, without our resources, don't have the choice that we have. And they are the people that are getting a bad deal. I hope the mayor or someone can get this under control, because no city is really great with a school system that doesn't take care of its citizens at every level.
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:31 AM
Location: Old Hyde Park, Kansas City,MO
1,145 posts, read 1,998,573 times
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^When KCMO becomes unaccredited, you can send your kids to Lees Summit if you wanted to, your kids will have free reign of schools on the missouri side once they become unaccredited.

The French Charter school is also a great school to consider.
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