Analysis compares JC school district to seven peers of similar size

The Show-Me Institute recently launched a website that ranks school districts in Missouri. Of the four Cole County school districts, Blair Oaks R-2 performed the best and the Jefferson City School District performed the worst.

Still, the comparison of Cole County districts may not be apples to apples.

The size and composition of students vary from school to school; The Jefferson City School District had more than 9,000 registrations, compared to more than 1,200 for Blair Oaks, according to

To see how Jefferson City compares to similar schools, the News Tribune examined the Jefferson City School District alongside seven similar-under 2,500 students. Rankings assessed various areas of achievement for each school in the state.

The scan included Arnold’s Fox C-6; Saint Joseph ; Ferguson-Florissant R-2, of Hazelwood; Mehlville R-9, of Saint-Louis; Raytown C-2; Joplin; and Lindbergh, of Saint-Louis.

However, the figures and data used by the Show-Me Institute do not date from the current school year. Most of the academic data is from the 2018-19 school year, which means these numbers changed over the next two years.

Jefferson City Superintendent Larry Linthacum said improvement is always the goal.

“The tremendous efforts of our staff and students at JC Schools lead to great academic advancement, and we are extremely proud of their commitment to learning. We recognize that we still have room for improvement and we intend to continue to focus on providing a learning environment in which every student can reach their full potential, ”he said.

School progress

Jefferson City’s GPA was 1.5, slightly below the average for the group of eight school districts, and its graduation rate was 81.3, second from the bottom, according to the site.

“The GPA assigned to our district on the School Rankings website dates back to the 18-19 school year, and we strongly agree that the data reflects a significant need for improvement,” said Linthacum. “What the website unfortunately does not reflect is the dramatic gains our district has made in student achievement over the past two school years.”

“The 81.3% graduation rate in 18-19 is lower than we would have liked it to be, and we have seen significant growth since then to reach a rate of 86.6 for the 2021 school year. This is the district’s highest graduation rate over the past 18 years (since 2004) and the second in the past 30 years (since 1991), ”he said.

Jefferson City performed well in English / Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, staying in the ELA scores bunch with 43.8% fluency and 49.455% growth, and 35.3 fluency. % in mathematics and a growth of 49.46%.

“Our district has intentionally focused on improving student achievement in reading over the past four or five years,” Linthacum said. “These efforts have included implementing a new reading program, a variety of classroom techniques and interventions, and the addition of state tests with our own reading diagnostic tool (i-Ready). to track student progress throughout the school year. “

He said the district is excited about its growth in reading.

According to a previous News Tribune article, the district’s improvement in i-Ready from start of year to end of reading was higher in the 2020-21 school year than in the last year. full measured, school year 2018-19, indicating more overall growth. Year-end numbers for 2019-2020 have not been measured due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Although scores initially declined following the pandemic, the district maintained the percentage of students at or above the last full year reading grade measured in 2018-19, dropping from a late count. year from 56.71% to 56.8%.

ACT scores

The ACT score for the Jefferson City School District was 19.3, slightly below the middle.

Linthacum said the district would like to see a higher score. He said the district has offered more pre-ACT opportunities by offering the test for free over the past few years, and he believes that will increase scores in the future.

“We also offer ACT tutors, pre-ACT workshops where teachers provide students with ACT-specific material including test strategies, and an online program that provides pre-ACT and ACT preparation opportunities for students. “said Linthacum.


Jefferson City had the highest spending of the eight schools, at $ 20,589 per student. Still, teachers’ salaries were the second lowest in the group, at $ 48,459.

Linthacum said a number of factors come into play in the spending, including the cost of living for the area, staff salaries and maintenance. He said teacher salaries in Jefferson City are among the highest in the region, and that figure is factored into each year to ensure the district is competitive with others in Mid-Missouri.

“On per student spending, our spending puts us below the state average (we’re spending $ 836 less per student than the state average based on 2020 data). As a superintendent, I think this is something that demonstrates financial responsibility on our part, as one of our three key district pillars is “stewardship,” Linthacum said. “Every year we review our district budget to try to find ways to reduce expenses and keep salaries competitive with neighboring districts. I believe that we are in a position to strike a healthy balance and I am satisfied with the fiscal stability that we have demonstrated over the years.

Of all school districts in Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Maries, Miller, Moniteau and Morgan counties, Jefferson City had the third highest average teacher salary, behind Columbia and School of the Osage.

Communications director Ryan Burns said the district generally compared to Waynesville, Sedalia and Poplar Bluff because of the similar number of free and discounted students for lunch, and Joplin, Fort Osage, Carthage and St. Joseph. depending on the size.

For these schools, the ELA and math scores fell in the same place in the distribution, and the graduation rate and ACT scores were near the bottom. GPA also fell to the bottom.

Jefferson City was once again in the lead in spending, but in the middle for teachers’ salaries.

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