The St. Louis School District has been given provisional accreditation by the Board of Education after taking a vote.

American Federation of Teachers President Mary Armstrong says it’s a small step in a giant leap the district needs to make. She’s calls the provisional accreditation a good thing, but says there is still room for the district to improve.

“By no means are we truly satisfied and think that we have arrived,” she says. “We want to become fully accredited and in order to do that or to be that we need to have nine of the 14 points on the Missouri Standardized Test schedule.”

St. Louis has seven points.

Armstrong says she has a plan for the district to become fully accredited by the year 2015.

“We want to make sure that within two to three years that we have accomplished the 9 points that are necessary and possibly even more,” she says, pointing out that other school officials are aiming to reach the same goal. “That’s what I believe the district will be shooting for, the employees of the district, and definitely what I will be shooting for.”

Armstrong says the district has worked hard to meet accreditation standards and has made some strides towards improvement in six of the academic areas. Only one has improved so far.

“We know that we have the employees who are dedicated to do it, we have the students who are eager to accomplish it, we have a community that’s supportive of us, we have an administration that’s driving us and we have a community that is supporting the administration through this endeavor,” she says.

Armstrong adds that with the St. Louis community continuing to work together, the reality of becoming fully accredited will happen.

“Progress in a large urban district is extremely fragile,” says Chris Nicastro, Education Commissioner. “While improvement takes many years and is challenging to achieve, it is even more difficult to sustain. If the District hopes to continue on a positive course, it will be incumbent on the current leadership team — board and administration — to engage in comprehensive succession planning. Permanent success cannot be dependent on individual leaders — irrespective of how talented and committed they might be. Intense focus on implementing new practices, procedures and policies will be required to ensure that these become institutionalized.”

Governor Jay Nixon says he’s pleased with the vote and recognizes the real progress the district has made over the past five years. “I applaud this commitment to improvement and the strong support shown by St. Louis business leaders and the entire community, and I urge the district’s leadership, teachers, students and families to keep up their hard work.”

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AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (:55)