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Everything listed under: Public School

  • These Tips Will Make Public School Enrollment a Piece of Cake


    Summer is a time of transition for many families, and it can be a time of anticipation for students and parents who will start a new school in the fall. Luckily, Missouri Parent has done the legwork. These tips will make public school enrollment a piece of cake for your family!

    Tip #1: Find Your Child’s School
    If you’re new to Missouri public schools, or if you’re trying to find your child’s school in a new community following a family move, the Missouri School Directory online is a huge help! It allows you to search for schools by district, county, or legislative district.

    Learn More: Finding Your Child’s School

    Tip #2: Gather the Right Documentation
    It’ll save you time and stress if you show up to your child’s school enrollment appointment with the correct documentation on-hand.

    This post explains the identification, medical, academic, and behavioral records you should bring when you enroll your child in school. Be prepared, though, that your child’s school may also ask you to complete additional documentation like technology assessments or language questionnaires.

    Tip #3: Ensure Your Child’s Immunizations are Up to Date
    Missouri public schools have published a recommended immunization schedule based on the suggestions of leading disease, pediatric, and family organizations across the country. Learn more about the vaccines that public schools students are required to receive in this post.

    Tip #4: Meet the Teacher & Attend the Open House
    Most Missouri schools offer the chance for parents and students to meet the teacher and the principal before school starts. If you’re new to the district, this is a great way to begin building relationships with the adults your child will interact with daily at school. Open houses are also a great way to get your child comfortable with his or her new school building, classroom, and teachers.

    Learn More: Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

    Tip #5: Don’t Let In-State Transfers Intimidate You!
    We know that a mid-year school transfer can be stressful for you and your family, so we wrote this post explaining the basic in-state transfer process for you. Luckily, Missouri has streamlined in-state transfers to make them easier for families like yours.

    Summer is a time of transition for many families, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be a time when parents and kids feel overwhelmed by the stress of school enrollment or transfer. We hope that these five tips help make your child’s school enrollment a piece of cake this fall!

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others with an interest in public education. Part of goal at Missouri Parent is to provide information that will help you help your child succeed in Missouri public schools. Bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates related to your child’s Missouri public school education!

  • What Does the Missouri Board of Education Do?


    The Missouri State Board of Education supervises instruction in the state’s public schools from preschool through higher education and adult education. The Board, which was established by Article IX, Section 2a of the Missouri Constitution, has many responsibilities.

    Its role includes, but is not limited to:

    · Appointing the State Commissioner of Education
    · Setting the policies for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
    · Defining academic performance standards and assessments.
    · Accrediting local school districts through the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP).
    · Operating Missouri State Schools, and
    · Submitting budget recommendations for education to the Missouri Legislature.

    All of the Board of Education’s duties are critical ones for Missouri’s public schools. Accreditation, performance standards, and budgets are some of the biggest categories of educational responsibility in the State of Missouri.

    So when board members’ decisions affect our students, schools, and districts so universally, it’s important to understand more about the Board. How are Board members appointed? How long do they serve? What kinds of credentials do they need to have?

    Who Sits on the Missouri Board of Education?

    There are eight members of the Missouri Board of Education, each of whom serves an eight-year term. The Governor appoints the board’s members, and the State Senate confirms them. The members’ terms are staggered so that only one member’s term expires each year.

    Members must represent more than one political party; no more than four members can belong to the same party. Additionally, each member of the board must come from a different county or congressional district to ensure that a broad range of geographic perspectives is considered in decision-making.

    Board members have a range of professional backgrounds ranging from education to business to politics, and many have served on local school boards for years — or even decades — before being appointed to the State Board of Education.

    You can read more about the Missouri State Board of Education on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Website. You can also find Board meeting agendas and minutes, a Board meeting schedule, and information about Missouri’s Commissioner of Education.

    Missouri Parent is here to help you navigate the intersection of education, policy and parenting. Bookmark Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily update on legislative and funding issues facing Missouri’s K-12 public schools.

  • Free and Appropriate Public Education: What Does It Mean?


    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of acronyms floating around the education world. One of those acronyms is more important than others, though, especially for families whose children fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA. That acronym is FAPE, and it stands for Free and Appropriate Public Education.

    A free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is an education that is paid for by the public — not by individual families. It’s designed to meet the child’s unique needs as stated in his or her IEP. A FAPE is available as part of the normal public education system in each community. It also prepares the child for whatever is appropriate for them; the next level of education, job, and life as an adult.

    Every child in the state of Missouri who qualifies for IDEA also qualifies for FAPE. It doesn’t matter how small the child’s school or how limited the district’ resources, it’s still the school’s legal requirement to provide a free, adequate education to every child.

    FAPE doesn’t mean that students under IDEA get a better education that kids who don’t qualify for IDEA. It means that the law requires schools to provide an equal education to disabled students as it does to other students. Missouri public schools must prepare disabled students for college, employment, and adult living just like they prepares every other Missouri public school student.

    A common misperception about IDEA and FAPE is that a FAPE entitles disabled students to everything related to their education absolutely free. In reality, students who qualify under IDEA still have to pay for the same supplies, extracurricular costs, club memberships, and all of the other incidental educational expenses that every other child in public schools has to pay.

    Do you think you’ve got your mind wrapped around the concept of a free and adequate public education for Missouri’s disabled students? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.

    Learn more about K-12 public school education in Missouri by connecting with Missouri Parent on Facebook on Twitter, where we share daily updates on all things education. Be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News — a single destination for news about schools and education issues across the state.

  • What Is an Individualized Education Plan?


    The federal government requires that all students who qualify under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have a written plan for success that teachers, parents, and other service providers follow. That plan, called an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, defines the student’s unique learning objectives, and it explains any special services the child might need to succeed in school.

    Not all students who have an IEP fall under IDEA, however. In many cases, IEPs are created for student who have special academic or medical needs, but who don’t have a disability. A child with a medical condition or who isn’t performing at grade level might have an IEP, just a child would who has a disability.

    What’s the Purpose of an IEP?

    An IEP is designed to help children with disabilities and other special needs to attain their unique educational goals. The IEP’s purpose is to support student achievement and well-being. The IEP doesn’t just exist for the student’s benefit, though. The IEP also exists to help teachers and service providers to understand and adapt to the student’s disability or special needs.

    Parents play an important role in developing their child’s IEPs. They’re involved in creating the IEP, and they give final signoff on the IEP. According to the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, parents should remain active in their child’s IEP from creation through implementation:

    “The principal is ultimately responsible to ensure that the IEP is being implemented. Parent are encouraged to work with teachers to ensure that children’s needs are being met both at home and at school.” (Source)

    The Children’s Education Alliance offers a free, extremely helpful, 20-page downloadable PDF called, “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Individualized Education Plans.” The document details exactly what Missouri public school parents should expect their child’s IEP to contain, suggestions on how to be prepared and involved in the IEP process, and more.

    Learn more about Missouri’s K-12 public schools by connecting with Missouri Parent on Facebook, on Twitter, where we share daily updates on all things education. And be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News — a single destination for news about schools and education issues across the state.

  • What is a Debt Service Levy?


    Each year, dozens of Missouri school districts use bond issues to pay for school improvements. Since the bond is borrowed money that’s backed by the full faith and credit of the community, the community must have a plan for how to pay bond debt back. Enter the debt service levy.

    Debt service levies are property tax levies used by communities to repay bonds. It’s common to see levy information written in cents-to-the dollar. For example, an Independence, Missouri bond issue was paired with a debt service levy of $0.85 to $1.

    That doesn’t mean that property owners would have owed just $0.85 or $1 each if the bond passed. Instead, it meant that property owners would owe $0.85 or $1 in taxes for every one hundred dollars of value that their property was assessed at. That particular bond was for $85 million in capital projects for the district.

    What does that look like for the average taxpayer?

    It means that if the final debt service levy was $0.85, then a property with property assessed at $50,000 would owe $425 per year in property taxes toward the debt service levy. That tax would help the district to repay the $85 million bond that helped improve its schools.

    Learn More: Read Missouri’s Law Governing Tax Levies and Bonded Indebtedness.

    Note: Most districts are required to set and publish their tax rates by September 1st. Other districts are required to report by October 1st.

    To continue to learn more about how your taxes affect public school funding in Missouri, please bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Have a topic you’d like to hear more about? Let us know by leaving a comment here or on Facebook.

  • What are Missouri State Schools?


    What are state schools, and how are they different from local public schools? That’s what we’ll talk about today on the Missouri Parent Blog.

    The public schools that most of us are most familiar with are traditional public schools administered at the local level through a local education authority, or LEA. LEAs are more commonly simply called school districts.

    State schools, on the other hand, serve children with severe disabilities. Mid-Missouri’s Public Radio station, KBIA explains:

    “In Missouri, the state schools aren’t integrated into local public school systems. They are separate, regional schools that serve only students with severe mental and physical disabilities.”

    These schools are administered by the State of Missouri through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Division of Learning Services’ Office of Special Education.

    According to DESE, there are three State Board of Education Operated Programs: School for the Deaf, School for the Blind, and the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled. Each of these is considered to be a state school system. (Source)

    Who Administers Missouri State Schools?

    A. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
    B. Division of Learning Services
    C. Office of Special Education
    c. Missouri State Schools
    School for the Deaf
    School for the Blind
    the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled

    Funding for state schools comes from federal and state moneys. In some cases, local districts are also required to contribute toward the cost of a child’s education who attends a state school but is a resident of the local district.

    If you’d like to learn more about Missouri’s three state-administered school districts, we recommend the following posts:

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD)
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Missouri School for the Deaf


    The Missouri School for the Deaf is a state school for students with hearing disabilities. MSD, which is located in Fulton, offers a comprehensive K-12 education with accredited academics and vocational training, as well as a wide array of extracurricular activities, sports, and residential life activities.

    Although most of MSD’s students are residential, many families of deaf children relocate to Fulton so that their children can attend MSD as day students while living at home. Children can go home as often as they’d like; students who live nearby can go home each night, but students who live further away might only go home on the weekends.

    As a state school, MSD is free for students to attend; the state pays for room, board, tuition, laundry, books, and other education and residential services. A deaf student’s access to a quality education is never inhibited by his or her parents’ ability to pay for it.

    According to MSD’s website, MSD students graduate “prepared for the world of work and for post-secondary education opportunities.” MSD calls its graduates, “self-supporting men and women who live and work in all parts of the state and throughout the nation.”

    MSD doesn’t just educate students. The Resource Center on Deafness at MSD is the state’s “official source of programs, services, information, and resources supporting the educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing children.” (Source)

    The Resource Center helps deaf and hard of hearing children, their parents, and their schools from birth until high school graduation.

    The Missouri Legislature established the Missouri School for the Deaf in 1851. Located on an almost 90-acre campus in Fulton, Missouri, MSD is the oldest residential deaf school west of the Mississippi River.

    About Missouri State Schools

    MSD is one of three school systems in Missouri that is administered by the State Board of Education, rafter than by a local school district. The other two systems are the Missouri School for the Blind and the Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled.

    If you’d like to learn more about these three Missouri’s state-administered school districts, we recommend the following posts:

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, is America’s federal law governing special education. It requires public schools to provide disabled students with a free education that’s specially designed to meet their needs.

    To better understand IDEA, it helps to understand what kinds of disabilities qualify a student for IDEA support.

    According to IDEA, a child with a disability is a child who has:
    · an intellectual disability
    · a hearing impairment
    · a speech or language impairment
    · a visual impairment
    · a serious emotional disturbance
    · an orthopedic impairment
    · autism
    · a traumatic brain injury
    · other health impairment
    · a specific learning disability
    · deaf-blindness
    · multiple disabilities

    Before a student is qualified for IDEA, he or she must be evaluated according to §§300.304 through 300.3. If the evaluation reveals that the child needs special education, then her or she qualifies for IDEA as a disabled student. However, sometimes a student’s evaluation reveals that while he or she needs related services, the student is not disabled. Those students don’t fall under IDEA.

    IDEA supports individuals from birth through age 22, but at Missouri Parent, we’re most concerned with how IDEA impacts K-12 public education. According to the Center for Parent Information and Resources, IDEA helps schools understand standards of achievement for students with disabilities:

    “Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), sets high standards for their achievement and guides how special help and services are made available in schools to address their individual needs.”

    IDEA standards are the minimum expectation of public school systems, though. States and districts can —and often do — exceed those expectations by offering exemplary educational services. In Missouri, students are integrated into their local school’s classrooms wherever possible. Students with sever disabilities can attend a Missouri state school. You can read more about state schools here.

    IDEA was passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act, and has been revised and reauthorized through the years. Its current iteration is known as IDEA 2004.

    If you’d like to learn more about Missouri’s educational programs for disabled students, we recommend these posts:

    Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD)
    What are Missouri State Schools?
    The Missouri School for the Blind (MSB)
    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD)

    To continue learning about Missouri public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. For daily updates, connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools


    Missouri’s School Transfer Law allows students who live in an unaccredited Missouri school district to attend school in an accredited district. When students transfer under the law, their home district (the failing district) is required to pay for their transportation to and tuition for the accredited school they’ll attend. This is an expensive an unsustainable solution for struggling schools.

    An Expensive Solution
    School transfers are expensive for the unaccredited district. In 2013, when both the Normandy and Riverview Gardens in St. Louis County were deemed unaccredited, more than 2,000 students transferred.

    While state lawmakers have proposed changes to the School Transfer Law, the law — in its current form — is an unsustainable one for unaccredited districts. Tuition alone cost between $7,000 and $21,000 per student for Normandy and Riverview Gardens. That means that the two districts spent more than $14 million just on tuition — an expense that threatened to send Normandy into bankruptcy. (Source)

    Learn More: Riverview Gardens Struggling as Result of School Transfers

    An Unsustainable Solution
    While the school transfer law helps the individual students who transfer out of struggling schools into successful ones, the transfer law doesn’t solve the larger problems facing failing schools. In fact, it just drains money away from schools that are already having a hard time maintaining infrastructure, providing students with quality resources, and hiring and retaining good teachers.

    This 2014 news story on opened by saying that Normandy School District was “buckling under the financial weight of Missouri’s school transfer law.”

    More recently, Normandy estimated that if more than 530 students transfer to accredited districts, “the cost of their tuition and in some cases their transportation could cause Normandy to go broke.” (Source)

    Selling Assets to Stay Afloat
    The sale of unused school district property is one of Normandy’s only saving graces. Beyond Housing, a nonprofit organization purchased seven empty schools and an early childhood center from Normandy last year, giving it a brief influx of funds.

    Profits from those sales have helped Normandy to remain operational, but how much longer can the district survive on this trajectory? How can lawmakers stand by while thousands of St. Louis public school students risk losing their local public school district entirely?

    Selling off assets and paying to send students to accredited schools isn’t a sustainable solution for Normandy, and it won’t be a strong solution for other Missouri schools that face lost accreditation in future years, either.

    Students Deserve a Quality Education at Home
    Missouri’s public school students deserve a high quality education in their own local public schools. The school transfer law helps some of the students in each unaccredited district, but for every student the law helps right now, it harms dozen more in the long run.

    As said, “the situation gives opportunity to about 430 Normandy children now in higher performing schools, but at the expense of the 3,500 who stayed.”

    That’s the risk of the school transfer law: its unreasonably expensive for local districts, and as a result, it’s not a sustainable way for our legislature to address lost accreditation. Struggling schools need to be made stronger by education policy. Instead, our state’s school transfer law is threatening to run them into the ground.

    Learn more about Missouri education policy and funding issues by bookmarking the Missouri Parent Blog. Get daily news updates from Missouri Parent News, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for timely information about state and local education policy.

  • #MoEdTools: Find Your Polling Place

    Not everyone knows exactly where to go to vote in local, state, or national elections. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office has a tool to help with that.

    The Find a Polling Place tool allows you to search for your polling place quickly and painlessly. Just put your physical address into the search boxes and add your jurisdiction. Click “Lookup”, and the tool will tell you exactly where to go to vote in your upcoming election.

    There’s just one caveat: if the next election is more than six weeks away, the tool might not be able to tell you yet where to go to vote. You might have to return to the Find Your Polling Place tool a little closer to election time.

    Was this post helpful? It’s part of an ongoing series called #MoEdTools that highlights educational, legislative, and funding tools that helps Missouri public school parents navigate policy and funding issues in the state.

    Learn More: What is Missouri Parent?

    For regular updates that provide a greater understanding of the public education system, bookmark Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our Tools to Use posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdTools.

  • What Is a School Bond Issue?



    Have you ever seen a school bond issue on your local ballot, but not been sure exactly what a bond issue really is? This post will explain school bond issues and the tax levies used to repay them. We’ll also introduce a topic that we’ll go into great detail on later this week: operating levies.

    School Bond Issues: The General Obligation Bond
    In most cases, school bond issues are placed on the ballot when a district needs to make capital (i.e. construction) improvements that aren’t funded elsewhere in the school’s budget.

    In most cases, school bonds are General Obligation, or GO, Bonds. GO bonds are municipal bonds used to fund projects, like schools, that don’t generate enough revenue to pay for themselves.

    According to, the GO bond is, “a municipal bond backed by the credit and ‘taxing power’ of the issuing jurisdiction rather than the revenue from a given project.” (Source)

    Schools don’t need to use assets as collateral for capital projects in the same way that traditional construction projects would. The full faith and credit of voters backs project costs. And unlike a for-profit construction project — for example, a new shopping center — schools don’t need to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of capital projects. That’s where tax levies come into play.

    Full Faith and Credit of the Voters
    Tax levies are often pledged in order to meet the debt service requirements of school bonds. Rather than requiring the school district to generate a substantial enough profit to cover its construction investments, local voters’ personal property taxes go up. This tax increase allows the community to pay back bondholders for the cost of the local school’s capital project. (Source, Source, Source)

    The Missouri Auditor’s Office explains:

    “When authorized by state law, Missouri’s local governments, such as school districts and municipalities, may borrow money to finance capital and other projects by issuing general obligation (GO) bonds, which are guaranteed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the issuer since the entity can levy a general tax to make GO bond repayments.” (Source)

    It’s important to note that a debt services tax levy for GO bond repayment isn’t the same thing as an operating tax levy. Operating tax levies fund a school district’s operating expenses like utilities and salaries. Springfield Public Schools sums up the difference between a bond and an operating levy on its website:

    “A school district requests a bond issue when it needs to make capital improvements such as building or renovating schools. A tax levy funds operating expenses like salaries, utilities and textbooks. State law is very specific that money from a bond issue may only be used for capital improvements and not to fund a district’s operating budget.” (Source)

    Learn more: What is an Operating Levy?

    Bonds Must Fulfill Their Stated Purpose
    There’s one final aspect of GO bonds that’s important to understand: Bonds are for specific uses, only. The money raised through the bond can be used for the purpose stated on the ballot, and for nothing else. If you see a school bond issue on your local ballot, you can rest assured that that bond issue will cover exactly what the ballot says, and nothing else.

    You can see a full list of bonds registered with the Missouri State Auditor’s Office here.

    If this post was informative, and if you’d like to continue to learn more about policies and funding issues facing Missouri’s K-12 public schools, bookmark Missouri Parent News. You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates about Missouri public schools.

  • What is an Operating Levy?


    When you go to the polls, you might see both bond issues and operating levies on your local ballot. Do you know how an operating levy is different from a bond issue? Keep reading, because we’re about to explain.

    An operating levy is a relatively flexible source of funding for Missouri schools. Unlike bond issues, which can only be used for capital projects, operating levies can be used to support the school in a variety of ways, including salaries, bill paying, and technology upgrades. And while bond issues can be used exclusively for the purposes stated on the ballot, operating levies can be used to cover expenses that aren’t articulated on the ballot.

    Learn More: What is a Bond Issue?

    Springfield Public Schools explains the difference between a bond and an operating levy well: “A school district requests a bond issue when it needs to make capital improvements such as building or renovating schools. A tax levy funds operating expenses like salaries, utilities and textbooks. State law is very specific that money from a bond issue may only be used for capital improvements and not to fund a district’s operating budget.” (Source)

    Operating levies are covered under The Missouri School Operating Tax Levy Agreement, or Amendment 2. Passed in 1998, the constitutional amendment says that school boards can set a levy of up to $2.75 without a vote. A simple majority vote is required to pass levies that are between $2.78 and $6.00, and for a levy of more than $6.00, a two-thirds majority vote is required. (Source)

    Historically, levies have been used to hire teachers, increase existing teacher salaries, make capital updates, and help with general operating expenses for Missouri’s schools.

    This 2013 levy in Springfield, Missouri was designed to hire more teachers for the district, so that the number of educators there kept pace with the district’s growing enrollment.

    In 2014, in Warrensburg, an operating tax levy was proposed to help “offset the decline in state funding over the last five years, increase staff salaries, add two school resource officers and upgrade technology.” (Source)

    And this year, as you prepare to go your local polls, you might see a proposed operating levy increase as well.

    Public schools in Independence, Missouri hope to see a 24-cent increase this year. The district could raise $2 million annually through its levy increase, enabling it to hire teachers, offer competitive teacher salaries, and invest in professional development, technology, and building maintenance costs. (Source)

    And Dallas County, in Southwest Missouri, is also looking for an operating levy increase. The district would use the new funds for a combination of capital projects, teacher hiring and retention, and “additional needs of the district.” These “additional needs” are the type of needs that operating levies, but not bond issues, can help fund.

    Missouri Parent aims to help you better understand funding and legislation that affects your child’s K-12 public education in the State of Missouri. If you found this post helpful, you might like this post explaining school bond issues. Bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to continue to learn more about Missouri public schools.

  • What Does it Mean When Your School Fails?

    What does it mean when you hear in the news that one of Missouri’s public schools is failing? And how is that term, “failing,” different from a school being unaccredited? Today on the Missouri Parent Blog, we’ll answer both of those questions.

    School Accreditation
    APRs are the state’s primary way of determining accreditation. Every public school, district, and charter local education agency in the state receives an APR based primarily on its performance in five areas.

    APRs help the state determine the level of accreditation each school earns. There are four levels of accreditation: Accredited with Distinction, Accredited, Provisionally Accredited, and Unaccredited.

    Accreditation holds all schools across the state to the same, measurable, standard of success. It takes into account graduation rates, high school and college preparedness, academic achievement, subgroup achievement, attendance, and other variables.

    If a school, district, or charter local education agency earns less than half of the points possible on its APR, it is deemed unaccredited. Losing accreditation is one reason a school might by called “failing,” but it’s not the only reason.

    Failing Schools
    National dialog about “failing” schools isn’t limited to schools that have lost accreditation. In fact, “failing” is used so broadly in media and policy that it’s sometimes unclear what it takes for a school to pass or fail.

    News stories accuse schools of failing when funding levels aren’t high enough, when too many families live below the poverty line, or when parents aren’t engaged enough.

    Reformers argue that America’s schools are failing because our students don’t perform as well on tests as students in other nations. And in some states, schools “fail” if they score in the bottom 5% of schools within that state on specific standardized tests.

    By that metric, 5% of the schools in the state will always fail, even if 100% of students earn passing test scores.

    The media has accused schools of failing because they aren’t modern enough, or because teachers’ unions protect their teachers. It has even said that schools “fail” if they don’t successfully ignite students’ passions. In an ideal world, all teachers would ignite their students’ passions. But is a teacher (or a school) failing if he or she (or it) successfully prepares students for college or career without necessarily lighting a fire in their hearts? Surely a successful education includes more than that.

    While researching this post, we read dozens of articles on “failing” schools and school systems, but few of those stories used quantifiable or peer-evaluated standards for passage or failure.

    “Failure,” it seems, is an easy label for anyone — politicians, reporters, administrators, reformers — to use to instill a sense of urgency for change. Who’s attention isn’t grabbed at the thought of their child’s school “failing”?

    To truly measure a school’s success, though, we need to take into account more than a single politician, journalist, or reformer’s personal viewpoints. We need consistent, measurable standards that ensure that all of Missouri’s public schools offer high-quality educational opportunities to our K-12 students. That’s exactly what Missouri’s school accreditation system does.

    For more information about school accreditation, we hope that you’ll explore these posts:

    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP)?
    MSIP5 Performance Standard: High School (K-8) & College (K-12) Readiness
    High School Graduation Rates and School Accreditation
    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    Academic Achievement & School Accreditation
    What are Subgroups, and How Does Missouri Measure Their Achievement?

    One of our goals at Missouri Parent is to provide information on Missouri’s MSIP 5 accountability system, including school accreditation, to parents of Missouri’s K-12 public school students. We hope that you’ll bookmark Missouri Parent News, and that you’ll connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed on school accreditation

  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)


    Name: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)

    About: MRTA is an association of retired educators whose purpose is to promote the professional, social and economic welfare of all retired school employees. The organization an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation with a statewide membership of more than 23,000 people.

    Membership is open to retired teachers of public, private, and parochial schools, and to administrators, supervisors, retired school employees, and non-certified personnel who have worked in educational programs, governesses, and tutors. Spouses of members, active teachers and others interested in education may become associate members without the right to vote, hold office or represent the Association.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    The MRTA Mission: The Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel organized in 1960 is the only educational organization in Missouri working exclusively for retired school personnel. MRTA will work actively with government and its entities for beneficial legislation. We shall strive to increase membership until all retirees become members, and always foster good fellowship. We will encourage members to be involved in community affairs and work for worthy educational causes. Our mission is to serve and not to be served. (Source)

    Number of Employees: 5
    (See a full list of MRTA’s office staff.)

    Executive Director: Jim Kreider


    Social Media Sites:
    MRTA on Facebook
    MRTA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    2015 Legislative Platform
    2015 Legislative Committee Purpose & Duties

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

  • Our Federal Title I Program Supports Students and Schools


    Title I is the country’s “flagship aid program for disadvantaged students”. It provides funding to schools to help close the education gaps associated with poverty. Title I is literally the first title (or section) in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was passed into law in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty”.

    The Institute of Education Sciences sums up Title I as a program that “provides financial assistance through state educational agencies (SEAs) to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.” (Source)

    What are SEAs?
    Each state has a State Education Agency (SEA) that coordinates educational efforts at the state level. Missouri’s SEA is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

    What are LEAs?
    Your child’s Local Education Agency (LEA) is the local organization that coordinates education efforts or provides government services to local schools. In most cases, the LEA is simply your child’s school district.

    How Can Title I Funds Be Used?
    Title I funds can be used for school wide programs or for targeted assistance. School wide programs are for schools that have 40% or more low-income students. School wide programs are implemented across the entire school, making core instructional programs stronger.

    Schools that don’t qualify for (or chose not to use) school wide Title I program funds can use the Title I targeted assistance program. Targeted assistance means that the school can identify and support those students who are at highest risk of failing.

    Title I funds could be used for a number of purposes, including extra instruction in core academic subjects, transportation of homeless students to their school of origin, hiring extra teachers, or investing in supplemental materials or technologies that help disadvantaged students meet state academic standards. Funding can also be used to support preschool, after-school, or summer programs that “reinforce the regular school curriculum.” (Source, Source)

    Who Benefits from Title I Funding?
    · Schools in need
    (to be eligible, at least 40% of a school’s students must be from low-income families)
    · Individual students who are at risk of failing. Examples could include children from migrant families, neglected youth and those at risk of abuse, or other at-risk youth

    How Many American Students Benefit from Title I?
    · In the 2006-7 school year: more than 17 million K-12 students benefited from Title I funds. (Source)
    · In the 2009-10 school year, more than 56,000 public schools or more than 21 million children nationwide benefited from Title I funds.

    Visit Missouri Parent News or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates about K-12 public school education, funding, and policy in the State of Missouri.

  • Who Better to Evaluate our K-12 STEM Programs than American Scientists


    The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of scientists and the general population to help understand how science and public opinion intersect. Pew surveyed general American citizens and scientists affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Survey questions asked for their thoughts on everything from STEM education to climate change to the genetically modified foods.

    The results were fascinating, but the specific results that stood out the most to us were those that showed what American scientists think about American K-12 STEM education. Who better to evaluate STEM education than the very scientists who work in STEM fields today?

    STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM has made national news over the last few years because students who study in STEM-related degree programs during college are likely to earn more money in their careers. This income gap is sustained for STEM majors, regardless of whether they pursue work in a STEM-related field.

    Most American high school students don’t graduate high school ready to study university-level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This lack of preparation — and the resulting lack of qualified candidates for STEM-industry jobs — is referred to as the STEM Crisis.

    Pew’s research project didn’t set out to prove or disprove the existence of a crisis in STEM education, but the results of its survey could absolutely be used to advance advocacy for STEM education: Nearly half of American scientists believe that K-12 STEM education is “below average” compared to K-12 STEM education in other industrialized nations.

    What will it take for America’s public schools (and Missouri’s public schools) to take the lead in global STEM education? What will it take for us to send our high school seniors off to college, fully prepared to excel in college-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes? Missouri Parent doesn’t have all the answers, but we will continue to research and write about the importance of STEM education in Missouri public schools.

    Here are a few of the takeaways from the Pew study:

    · Only 16% of AAAS scientists rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · Just 29% of the general public rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
    · A whopping 46% of AAAS scientists believe that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · 29% of the general public believes that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
    · Scientists also believe that the general public’s limited scientific knowledge is a result of poor K-12 STEM education.

    You can read the Pew Research Center’s report (which is the source of all statistics used in this Missouri Parent post) here.

    More Missouri Parent Posts About STEM Education:
    What is the STEM Crisis?
    Girl Scout Embrace STEM
    A Missouri University Embracing STEM Education for Public Schools
    INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

    Missouri Parent is a free service for anyone in Missouri who has an interest in public education. Come back to the MOParent Blog, check MOParent News, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates and timely information about public education and the funding and legislative issues affecting it.

  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)


    Name: The Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)

    About: MASSP is a professional organization committed to the ongoing improvement of secondary education, the professional development of middle level and high school principals and assistant principals, and programs for the youth of Missouri.

    It is the only association in Missouri that serves the professional needs of middle school and high school principals and assistant principals with programs designed by secondary school administrators for secondary school administrators. (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Mission: To improve secondary education through positive leadership and the enhancement of student performance. (Source)

    Read more about MASSP’s mission and beliefs here.

    Number of Employees: 2

    Executive Director: Phil Lewis


    Social Media Sites:
    MASSP on Twitter
    MASSP on Facebook

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MASSP’s advocacy efforts are woven into the efforts of the School Administrators Coalition (SAC) and Better Schools for Missouri. SAC sends out weekly email newsletter during legislative sessions, and the national association has a presence on Capitol Hill. Better Schools for Missouri helps supports of public education to elect Missouri lawmakers who share their value of quality public education.

    Read More: #MOEdAdvocates: Better Schools for Missouri

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates

  • This Program is Revolutionizing Education for Missouri High School Students in the Northland

    Public schools today are being asked to do more than they’ve ever been asked to do before.

    Americans have watched the cost of college education skyrocket, and at the same time, our job market has been more competitive than ever. Is it still enough for public schools to provide K-12 academic education, or do we owe our students — particular our high school students — a more relevant set of college and career training opportunities?

    One program in greater Kansas City has set the standard for a new, immersive, and highly relevant public-private approach to high school education. Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS) offers high school students the opportunity to earn high school credit and college dual-enrollment while working directly with local businesses.

    Northland CAPS is revolutionizing education for high school juniors and seniors in the Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County, and Smithville school districts. Students at Northland CAPS work directly with local and global business partners in one of five “strands” of study:

    · Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
    · Global Business and Entrepreneurship
    · Global Logistics and Transportation
    · Medicine and Healthcare
    · Technology Solutions

    Students work with real businesses on meaningful projects, using business-standard software and equipment. Real employers mentor and supervise Northland CAPS students, and giving students valuable early career experience in project management, creativity, business ethics, teamwork, and time management.

    Among the public-private partnerships through Northland CAPS is the partnership with Liberty Hospital. One student posted an update about his experience at Liberty to the programs’ website on January 16th:

    “The Northland CAPS program has matured me in ways I never would have imagined...This semester I have two internships, one through Hospice Advantage and the other through Liberty Hospital with the Clinical Education department...This is only the beginning of a long journey into areas of medicine that I am very passionate about and I can’t wait to see where this experience takes me.” (Source)

    Programs like Northland CAPS aren’t just academic, and they aren’t just vocational. They train students for college, career, or both. The program teaches students industry standards, opens them up to entrepreneurial thinking, and gives them an edge in college admissions.

    Dozens of universities, including the University of Missouri (MU), endorse the program at Northland CAPS. Dr. DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Access Initiatives, Division of Enrollment Manager and Dr. Ann J. Korschgen, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management — both at MU, say that:

    “We are excited to see such bold vision and innovation at the secondary level. The hands-on experiential learning, the fostering of innovation and technology, and the partnerships across the community exemplify aspects that we hope to see replicated in other areas around the state and the nation.” (Source)

    The experiences and partnerships that MU mentions in its endorsement aren’t accidental. Northland CAPS is committed to providing hands-on experiences and business mentorships that integrate the 21st Century learning skills of critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

    Northland CAPS is leading the way in public-private education partnerships in Missouri, but it’s not the only initiative we’ve seen. The Missouri DECA program has promoted entrepreneurship and business skills for more than 65 years, and passionate educators and entrepreneurs came together in Missouri for the recent Kansas City Startup Weekend. Another notable public-private partnership in Missouri is the Governor’s Innovation Campus program.

    To learn more about forward-thinking educators and educational programs in the state of Missouri, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • What the Missouri Hold Harmless Clause Means for Our Students and Schools


    Just like you, those of ust at Missouri Parent see the phrase “hold harmless” used a lot in conversations about funding for Missouri’s K-12 public schools, but we rarely see the term explained in simple terms. Policy makers and education professionals might understand the hold harmless clause, but does the average Missouri parent?

    The phrase “hold harmless” refers to the more than 170 public school districts that fall under a specific clause of the Missouri Foundation Formula. That clause says that no Missouri school district will receive less funding in the current year than it received in the 2005-6 school year.

    Is your local public school district a hold harmless district? Check this list to see.

    Educators use a finely-tuned formula to determine which schools are held harmless and which are not. The formula takes each district’s Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA), its State Adequacy Target (SAT), and its local funding efforts into account. (Learn more about the WADA and SAT in this post about the Foundation Formula.)

    The bottom line is that if a Missouri school district’s current funding level is less now than it was in 2006, it is a hold harmless district.

    The subject of hold harmless districts is, and will continue to be, relevant to public education funding and legislation. Keep coming back to the Missouri Parent Blog for accurate and timely information that impacts public education, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily education news and updates.

  • Missouri Education Advocates: Better Schools for Missouri


    Name: Better Schools for Missouri
    (Formerly called The Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee)

    About: The organization now known as Better Schools for Missouri was formed in 1991 by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) and the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) “as a way for supporters of public education to help elect candidates in Missouri that share the value of quality public education” (source)

    At its founding, the organization was named the Missouri School Administrators Political Action Committee. It has since been renamed Better Schools for Missouri.

    Five organizations are sustaining members of Better Schools for Missouri:
    The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA)*
    The Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP)
    The Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
    The Missouri Council of Career and Technical Administrators (MCCTA)
    The Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO)

    Purpose: To support candidates for statewide and legislative offices who advance the legislative goals of the member organizations, and to promote statewide legislative issues that will further the cause of elementary and secondary education.


    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    According to the Better Schools for Missouri website:
    “Together, over the past years, we have accomplished a great deal through our lobbying and political action efforts. But our job is not done. In the next few years, school administrators must unite to face a number of legislative challenges including:

    1. Protecting the public schools against utilization of public funds for non-public education purposes such as tuition tax credits/vouchers.
    2. Working to maintain local control of education policies and finances to ensure that districts have the ability to make decisions that best meet their individual needs, including decisions regarding when school will start and setting priorities for the expenditure of school district funds.
    3. Working to maintain a residency requirement for student attendance and educating legislators regarding the need for the requirement.
    4. Changing the perception of some legislators that school administration costs are too high and that school administrators are overpaid.
    5. Working to avoid further erosion or diversion of our local property tax base.
    6.Monitoring the implementation of the new foundation formula to ensure that full funding is provided and necessary revisions are made.
    7. Working to maintain the fiscal stability of our “Public School Retirement System” (PSRS) and to ensure that all present member benefits are not eroded.
    8. Working with our national associations and congressional delegation to obtain mandatory federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and to ensure needed improvements are enacted for the No Child Left Behind law.”


    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates”, which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    *MASA is also the sponsoring organization of the Missouri Parent program.


  • Quality Counts School Finance Report Gives Missouri a C- Grade


    Quality Counts — the nation’s most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education — published its 19th annual Education Week’s Quality Counts report.

    The report, called Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown was made up of three indexes:

    · The Chance for Success Index;
    · K-12 Achievement Index; and
    · School Finance

    School finance is an ongoing battle in Missouri, where the state’s Foundation Formula goes under-funded year after year. That’s why the Quality Counts report caught our attention: We were curious to see how Missouri’s school finance stacks up against the rest of the nation. The School Finance index “examined educational expenditure patterns and the distribution of those funds” (source).

    The findings? The U.S. earned a C grade. The highest scoring state in the nation was Wyoming, which earned a B+. The lowest was Idaho, which earned a failing grade. Missouri fell in the middle of the pack: we earned a C-.

    You can purchase the full report here, but if you’d like the shorter version, keep reading:

    The report looks at how much money each state actually spent on public education, but it also looked at funding-related poverty-based achievement gaps. It’s important to understand that the report didn’t just look at the state’s overall education spending though; it looked at the districts within each state.

    The study aims to measure educational progress — in this case educational funding progress — over time and across all states. To do that, the finance report included eight key factors:

    1. The relationships between school district funding and local property wealth;

    Missouri’s Score: Missouri scored 0.185, which means that wealthy districts in the state receive more funding per weighted pupil that Missouri’s poorer districts do.

    Read more: Satire (and the Sad Truth) About Education Funding with The Onion

    2. Actual spending as a percent of the amount of money needed to bring all students to a median level of funding;

    Missouri’s Score: 91.1%. The best scores in the nation were in the 95th percentile and the lowest was in the 81st. The national average was 90.8%. Our interpretation is that Missouri could do more to close the gap for students in districts where funding falls below the state median.

    3. The amount of disparity in spending across school districts within a state;

    Missouri’s Score: 0.151. In this case, 0.0 would be a perfect score because it would indicate that there was no disparity in spending from one district to the next. We fell near the middle of all states, but we were below the national average of 0.167

    4. The difference in per-pupil spending levels between the highest (95th) and lowest (5th) percentiles;

    Missouri’s Score: $3,558. Missouri’s spending difference was lower than the national average ($4,559), but the discrepancy in spending is substantial when you consider that our State Adequacy Target (SAT) for PPE in the same year was just $6,717.17.

    Learn more: Missouri’s State Adequacy Target & the Foundation Formula

    5. Each state’s per-pupil expenditure (PPE), adjusted for regional cost differences;

    Missouri’s Score: $10,798. The national average (adjusted for cost of living, etc.) was $11,735, so Missouri didn’t fall too far behind. Wyoming’s PPE was the highest in the nation at $17,758.

    6. The number of students in the state who attend school in a district that has the same PPE as the national average or a higher PPE than the national average;

    Missouri’s Score: Just 13.7% of Missouri’s students attend school in districts where PPE meets or exceeds the national average. Nationally, 43.4% of students attend school in a district that meets or exceeds national average per-pupil funding.

    7. PPE compared to how far below the national average each district funds its students; and

    Missouri’s Score: 85.7. While this measurement (called the “Spending Index”) uses a complicated mathematic formula (see the report), the important takeaways are that 100 is a perfect score, and that the national average was 89.4. Eight states scored a perfect 100, meaning that every single district in their state fund their pupils at or above the national average.

    8. The state’s total percent of taxable resources invested in education.

    Missouri’s Score: 3.3% of Missouri’s total taxable resources are invested in education, as compared to a 3.4% national average. The highest percentages in the country were in Vermont and West Virginia. Both states spent 5.1% of their taxable resources on education. North Dakota invested just 2.3% of taxable resources to public education.

    Learn more: Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?

    While the School Finance report shouldn’t be viewed as a standalone piece from the other two indices in Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown, its findings are still intriguing.

    · If we hope to reach a Top 10 national public schools ranking by the year 2020, how important is it to close our spending gaps between wealthier and poorer schools?
    · What can our education leaders and lawmakers do to help ensure that all students in Missouri get at least median-level funding for public education?
    · Is a $3,558 per-student discrepancy acceptable between our best- and worst-funded schools after removing the top and bottom 5%?

    Education funding and policy are complex issues nationally and right here in Missouri. Missouri Parent won’t always have the answers to these polarizing questions, but we’ll continue to report on funding and legislative issues that affect your child’s K-12 public education in the state.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog throughout the legislative session to learn more about education funding policies being debated right now in Missouri, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.


    Download the “National Highlights Report” of Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown here.

    Read Education Week’s press release on Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown here.

    See the School Finance report here.

  • Corporal Punishment in Schools: Your Opinion

    Missouri lawmakers are back in the capitol for the First Regular Session of the 98th General Assembly, and one of the many conversations lawmakers will have during the legislative session is one about corporal punishment in schools.

    Senator Joe Keaveny (D – St. Louis) filed a bill that will prohibit spanking or paddling in public schools. This isn’t the first time that Missouri lawmakers have tried to ban spanking in schools – according to, “similar legislation that also would have banned spanking in private schools failed last year.” (source)

    Senate Bill 241 would prohibit the use of corporal punishment in all Missouri public schools, says the Senator’s page on the Senate website. 19 states in America allow corporal punishment, such as spankings and paddlings, as a form of discipline in public schools. The Washington Post cites federal data analysis that says that “one child is hit in public schools every 30 seconds somewhere in the United States.” (source)

    Besides Missouri, the following states allow teachers and administrators to punish children physically: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

    The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) ranks Missouri as the state with the 10th highest incidents of corporal punishment based on 2006 data, when 5,129 students received corporal punishment in Missouri public schools.

    Do you think that teachers and administrators should be allowed to administer spankings, paddlings, and other corporal punishment in Missouri’s public schools? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment right here, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part V: Improving Educational Efficiency and Effectiveness

    This is the final post of a series on the Missouri Top 10 by 20 initiative. To read this series from the beginning, click here.

    The Missouri Top 10 by 20 initiative is a statewide improvement measure designed to ensure that Missouri’s student achievement ranks top 10 in the nation by the year 2020. The initiative, which launched in 2009, the initiative is broken down into four primary goals:

    Goal #1: All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready.
    Goal #2: All Missouri children will enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school.
    Goal #3: Missouri will prepare, develop and support effective educators.
    Goal #4: The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will improve departmental efficiency and operational effectiveness.

    Today on the Missouri Parent Blog, we’ll delve into the fourth and final goal: “the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will improve departmental efficiency and operational effectiveness.”

    We can’t blame you if reading about “efficiency” and “effectiveness” makes your eyes glaze over a little bit, but stick with us here: this is important stuff for Missouri’s public schools.

    Missouri 10 by 20 isn’t a standalone plan; it’s helped spark other programs in the state, including reform plans, accountability systems, and even a comprehensive online data system for Missouri K-12 public education. Some of these tools and programs are directly related to Goal #4.

    The Missouri Education Reform Plan
    In March 2011, DESE published what it described as a “dynamic, working document called the Education Reform Plan Summary. The plan aligns directly with the Missouri 10 by 20 goals, and it provides details about how, exactly, Missouri will improve efficiency and effectiveness:

    “…the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must operate more efficiently and effectively than ever. The Department must develop its capacity to provide leadership and support in addition to its traditional roles of distributing funds and monitoring compliance. The Department of Education seeks to build the institutional structure needed to ensure long-term school improvement and attainment of Top 10 performance throughout the state. The Department must provide models and strategies for school districts and charter schools to use in improving instruction and ensuring high performance. Most of these strategies do not require additional resources but a different approach in the classroom, the school building, the district office or the state department of education; some strategies require additional resources. There is much we can do…even before we get more money.” (Source)

    The Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5)
    The Missouri School Improvement Plan ties directly to the Missouri 10 by 20 Initiative’s fourth goal. It’s the state’s accountability system for reviewing and accrediting public schools and school districts in Missouri.

    The MSIP policy goals include:
    · Set expectations for student achievement that align with ultimate goal of all student graduating college and career ready
    · Distinguish performance of schools and districts (i.e. accreditation)
    · Empower stakeholders through transparent reporting and communications
    · Promote continuous improvement and innovation

    Learn More: What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?

    MSIP5 holds schools and districts accountable for graduation rates, college and career readiness, attendance, and more. The bottom line: if you want to the effective of your child’s school, you should learn more about its accreditation.

    Learn More: 5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation

    The Missouri Comprehensive Data System
    The Missouri Comprehensive Data System, or MCDS, is an online resource that gives public access to education-related data for the state. While educators and administrators might get more out of the site than parents will, it’s still worth taking a look.

    The MCDS provides demographic information for every district in the state. In addition, there are three tools on its website: Quick Facts, Guided Inquiry, and Advanced Inquiry.

    · Quick Facts: Basic reports and documents on topics ranging from administrator salaries to Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) results.
    · Guided Inquiry: Explore the same information as in Quick Facts, but create summary reports using simple filters.
    · Advanced Inquiry: In-depth research and analysis of the same information made available in Quick Facts and Guided Inquiry. (Source)

    By the year 2020, Missouri wants 100% of school districts to use the MCDS “to inform major decisions and improve efficiency.” (Source)

    Improving efficiency and effectiveness of a statewide education system is no small feat. The Missouri School Improvement Plan, MSIP5, and the MCDS are just three ways that the state is trying to help student achievement reach the top 10 in the nation by 2020.

    To learn more about Missouri’s education policy, funding, and accountability, come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, where we provide daily updates on the state of public education in Missouri.

    More from Missouri Parent:
    Missouri Updates Top 10 by 20 for Fiscal Year 2015
    Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part II: Graduating College and Career Ready
    Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part III: Entering Kindergarten Prepared for Success
    High School Graduation Rates & School Accreditation in Missouri

  • Education Funding Released After Veto Session’s Close



    Governor Nixon’s “Friday Favors” tax break bill vetoes were brought to lawmakers during the September 10th veto session in Jefferson City. The Governor’s tax break-specific vetoes were sustained, and he announced on Thursday that $143.6 million would be released back into the General Revenue.


    Learn more about the Governor’s precautionary adjustment of the General Revenue in this post.

    Governor Nixon applauded the General Assembly for its decision to sustain his veto of those special interest tax break bills:

    “Presented with a clear choice between supporting local schools and siding with special interests, the General Assembly yesterday stood with us and made the right decision to invest in the best economic development tool there is: public education,” he said. (source)

    Taken individually, the Friday Favors arguably offered reasonable incentives to businesses. When viewed collectively, however, the bills had the potential to reduce the Missouri General Revenue by an estimated $425 million. Funding for Missouri’s K-12 and higher education institutions makes up 45% of the General Revenue, so the $425 reduction in revenues would have significantly impacted Missouri students.

    One of the most-discussed bills in the veto session was Senate Bill 584—a bill that gave tax exemptions that many lawmakers argued were overly vague—to data centers. SB 584 would have cost the state revenues, but it would also have cost local municipalities. Greene County, for instance, would have lost around $5.3 million as a result of provisions in SB 584.

    By sustaining vetoes of SB 584 and other special interest tax break bills, Missouri legislators have chosen to support to schools and students all over the state. The $143.6 million that has been released back into the General Revenue will go to local school districts and higher education institutions, benefiting nearly a million students, statewide.

    Governor Nixon called the release of those General Revenue funds for education a bi-partisan effort:

    “The resources I’m announcing today are possible because legislators of both parties came together and agree that it’s time to invest in our schools.” (source)

    Of the $143.6 million in released funding, $100.2 million supports the Missouri Foundation Formula, while more than $43.3 million is dedicated to performance funding for Missouri higher education.

    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog, follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook to learn more about how policy makers and policies impact your child’s education in the state.


  • Missouri Schools Should Be Prioritized Above Tax Cuts



    Governor Jay Nixon vetoed 33 bills during the 2014 legislative session. Ten of those bills, which his administration calls “#FridayFavors”, were vetoes of tax break bills that could reduce state and local tax revenues by more than $776 million annually, $425 million of that at the state level.

    These tax breaks are good for corporations and bad for schools. TWEET THIS

    Businesses would save $425 million in tax deals, while schools, which rely heavily upon Missouri General Revenue, would see a reduction of around $119 million in funding. Urban and rural schools, which traditionally see lower levels of local funding, would be among the hardest hit by the Friday Favors. TWEET THIS

    The Kansas City Star calls the tax breaks unwise, explaining their risk to schools:

    “It would be unwise to slash into revenues so deeply that it threatened funding for public schools, universities and services for six million residents.”

    The Star is not alone in its concern about tax breaks that would reduce state-level funding for education. Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering told KOMU News:

    “This is very significant from the standpoint that you have to reduce services and programs in order to make up for that loss. The biggest single beneficiary of state general revenue is K-12 education.”

    Legislators will reconvene on September 10th in veto session for a chance to override Gov. Nixon’s vetoes. If you’re concerned about funding for Missouri’s schools, reach out to your representative immediately. Let him or her know that your child’s education should be a higher priority than saving a fast food chain or other large corporation a few dollars in state taxes.



    photo credit: nicolasnova via photopin cc

  • Missouri Governor Vetoes Tax Breaks – How Will #MOLeg Respond?



    On the last day of the 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly passed several last-minute tax breaks to benefit several businesses and corporations. Governor Jay Nixon reacted strongly in favor of public education by vetoing those tax breaks, which would directly affect state-level funding for education in Missouri.

    As a precautionary measure (in case his vetoes are overridden), the Governor also adjusted the General Revenue to account for the $425 million decrease in the state’s tax revenues that the proposed tax breaks would create.

    The Governor, who has received tremendous criticism for this decision, was acting within his powers: The state constitution forbids it from operating at a deficit. A $425 million reduction in general revenues requires a $425 reduction in spending to keep the budget balanced—a reduction that directly affects K-12 and higher education students statewide.

    Each year, 45% of Missouri’s General Revenue is spent supporting K-12 and higher education institutions. If the General Revenue is reduced by $425 million, Missouri students will receive a proportionate reduction in support. In short, big business will save $425 million, and schools will receive around $119 million less per year than they already do in state-level educational support.

    Ironically, although it was a Republican-led majority that pushed for these tax breaks, Republicans have launched a high profile and well-publicized attack against Governor Nixon, calling students his “lowest priority”.

    House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka is one of the many Republicans speaking out:

    “This is a governor who tells the public he wants to invest in our young people, but then is all too willing to make school funding his first target and show that public education is his lowest priority…”

    In just a few days, Missouri’s lawmakers will reconvene in the capital to attempt to override Governor Nixon’s vetoes. If that happens, anti-tax advocates will win, and Missouri’s students will lose. If you believe that students should have priority over big business we encourage you to contact your local representative immediately to let him or her know that Governor Nixon’s vetoes should be supported—not overridden.




  • Missouri Announces 2014 Gold Star Schools

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced its 2014 Gold Star Schools. Eight Schools have been recognized by the state:

    Concord Elementary School (Lindberg Schools), St. Louis County, MO
    East Elementary (Ozark R-VI School District), Ozark, MO
    Festus Elementary School (Festus R-VI School District), Festus, MO
    Henry Elementary School (Parkway C-2 School District), St. Louis County, MO
    Lincoln College Prep (Kansas City 33 School District), Kansas City, MO
    Long Elementary School (Lindbergh Schools), St. Louis County, MO
    Mason Ridge Elementary School (Parkway C-2 School District), St. Louis County, MO
    North Glendale Elementary School (Kirkwood R-VII School District), Kirkwood, MO

    The Gold Star Schools program is a state-level recognition program administered by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that honors schools that are high performing and/or are high performing while serving a significant portion of disadvantaged students.

    Established in 1991, the the Gold Star Schools program aligns with the national Blue Ribbon Schools program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Recipients of the Gold Star Schools aware are nominated for the Blue Ribbon award, as well.

    Eight schools were also recognized as Gold Star Schools in 2013.

  • Your School’s Most Successful Fundraiser

    What’s the most successful fundraiser you have seen in your child’s school?

    You’ve probably got a fundraiser or two under your belt. Maybe you volunteered to help coordinate your child’s candy bar sales for a sports team or you helped sell Girl Scout Cookies when your daughter was young. Maybe you’ve worked a charity golf tournament or prepared sweet treats for a bake sale.

    Fundraisers are part of how schools, clubs, and other organizations earn the money they need to run well. And as an active Missouri parent, you’ve earned your fundraising stripes.

    That’s why we want to hear from you:

    • What was the most successful fundraiser you’ve seen in your child’s school?
    • What do you think is the most important part of making a fundraiser successful?
    • Are there any fundraisers that you simply dread being part of? What are they, and why do you dread them?

    Are you looking for new school fundraising ideas? This website offers a list of them. Here are a few of our favorites:

    • A School Spirit Fundraiser: Sell school apparel like t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, jackets, flags and banners.
    • The Hassle-Free Fundraiser: Also known as the anti-fundraiser, invite parents to donate instead of having to buy candy bars…again.
    • Trivia Nights: It’s hard not to have fun at a well-organized trivia night.

    Leave a comment on the Missouri Parent Blog or on our Facebook page today!

  • Leadership Development Program Announced for Missouri Educators

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) to offer its Executive Development Program to Missouri educators through the Missouri Leadership for Excellence, Achievement and Development (MoLEAD) project.

    The NISL’s Executive Development Program emphasizes the role of principals as leaders and strategic thinkers, helping them build the skills necessary to set direction for teachers and to run efficient organizations.

    MoLEAD will use the NISL Executive Development Program to train more than 300 educators (superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders, specifically) from nine regions of the state. The ultimate goal is to raise student achievement by offering high-level professional development for those school leaders selected to participate.

    According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the MoLEAD curriculum “will focus on instructional leadership with emphasis on new Missouri academic standards and best instructional practices” (source).

    Educator training will take place online and in face-to-face sessions, combining hands-on experiences with mentoring opportunities. The first group of participants began the MoLEAD program in January and will complete the program in July.

    MoLEAD is just one more way that the state of Missouri is working toward achieving a “Top 10 by 20” status; ranking in the top 10 performing states in the country in public education by the year 2020. (Part of the Top 10 by 20 initiative is to prepare, develop, and support effective educators.)

    Image via Getty.

  • Adaptive vs. Fixed Form Assessments: What’s the Difference?

    Missouri’s public school students will transition to an entirely online Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing system in 2014-15. As you learn more about how your child will be assessed through the new MAP tests, you may hear the terms “adaptive” and “fixed-form” testing. Today on the Missouri Parent Blog, we’ll explain the difference between the two testing styles:

    Adaptive Testing
    Adaptive testing, also called computer adaptive testing (CAT) or “tailored testing”, is a method of testing that actively adapts to the test taker’s ability level during a computerized assessment.

    In adaptive testing, a computerized algorithm adjusts future questions based on a student’s performance on past questions. In other words, the test bases the difficulty of future questions on whether a student has answered past questions correctly.

    Adaptive testing provides a more accurate measure of student achievement than traditional, fixed-form testing does; specifically for the highest- and lowest-performing students.

    The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) Course Level Assessments (CLAs) for 3rd through 8th grade English language arts and mathematics use adaptive testing.

    Fixed-Form Testing
    In fixed-form testing, all students receive the same future questions, regardless of performance on past questions. If you took paper-and-pencil assessments as a student, then you’re familiar with fixed-form tests.

    In Missouri, End-of-Course (EOC) assessments are fixed-form tests. This includes EOCs for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

    To learn more about the Missouri Assessment Program, see these posts from Missouri Parent:

    What is the Missouri Assessment Program?
    Missouri Public Schools to Use CTB/McGraw-Hill 
    How Will Missouri Assess the Common Core?
    5 Ways Your Child’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation

    Photo via

  • Missouri Senate Gives First Round Approval to School Transfer Bill

  • Public Schools Face Increased Costs of Doing Business

    The Missouri General Assembly is in session, and once again, tax breaks for businesses are on the table. HB 1253, sponsored by Representative T.J. Berry (R-Kearney) — the same representative who sponsored last year’s HB 253 — promise these breaks to businesses across the state.

    As you may remember, HB 253 was vetoed by Governor Nixon and the override attempt by the legislature failed.

    Missouri’s General Revenue provides approximately 84% of public education funding. If HB1253 passes, the state’s General Revenue is expected to fall between $71 million and $347 million per year.

    Businesses in Missouri face increased operating costs in 2014, including:
    · Increased insurance costs
    · Increased transportation costs
    · Increased litigation costs
    · Increased technology expenses

    The same can be said for Missouri’s K-12 public schools.

    Missouri’s public school systems face all of the same increased costs of doing business that businesses do: Insurance, transportation, litigation, and technology costs are all on the rise for Missouri’s schools. HB 1253 and similar pieces of legislation will reduce taxes for business, but it won’t help schools.

    In fact, it could hurt them by reducing the General Revenue.

    In FY2013, Missouri’s Foundation Formula for public schools was already underfunded by $621 million. Our students can’t afford HB 1253’s additional $71 million to $347 million hit on the General Revenue.

    Missouri Parent will continue to keep you informed throughout the legislative session. Be sure to subscribe to email updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the most immediate news on legislative and funding issues that affect Missouri public school students.

    What Can You Do? 

  • Using TedEd to Create Video-Based Classroom Lessons

    What if we told you that, as a parent at home anytime or classroom teacher, you could turn any video on YouTube into an interactive classroom lesson in a matter of minutes using an established, reputable, and free website?

    If your ears perked up at the idea of video-based lessons, and if you’re familiar with Ted Talks, then this post is for you. Keep reading!

    TedEd, a division of Ted Talks, allows users to turn any YouTube video into an interactive TedEd lesson that you can share with your students, your peers, and the larger TedEd community.

    In short, you can easily capture your students’ attention with tools you already know they enjoy; video and the Internet.

    An Example Lesson
    This animated lesson, called “Sugar Affects the Brain”, was created by educator Nicole Avena. The 5:03-long video teaches students how sugar releases dopamine in the brain, causing people who eat sugar-rich foods to continue to crave them. More than 250 teachers have flipped Avena’s video into customized, interactive classroom lessons for their own students.

    Flipping Avena’s video isn’t stealing her intellectual property. In fact, Avena gets a sort of digital pat on the back each time her video is flipped; TedEd counts flips and lesson views, and it always gives credit to the video’s creator(s).

    TedEd + YouTube = Limitless Possibilities
    There are more than 330 TedEd Original videos, 162 Ted Talks, and more than 52,000 total TedEd Flips on TedEd’s site.

    Teachers can also use TedEd to flip any of YouTube’s billions (yes, billions) of videos into shareable TedEd lessons. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

    Teachers can use TedEd To:
    · Share original lessons OR flip other teacher’s video lessons
    · Creative interactive video-based quizzes ("Think")
    · Direct students to additional readings or resources (“Dig Deeper”)
    · Initiate and moderate discussions about the video lesson (“Discuss”)
    · Track student participation and/or quiz scores, making grading easy

    More on Grading
    TedEd allows you to create classroom rosters, to track quiz grades, and to monitor student participation.

    Ted Ed is designed with high school and college students in mind, so it’s probably not the best fit for elementary or middle school teachers.

    Have you used TedEd to create video lessons for your Missouri students? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment letting us know how you and your students liked using TedEd.

  • The Missouri Assessment Program: Changes Ahead for 2014-15

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently announced changes to the 2014-15 Missouri Assessment Program, including adjustments to Grade Level Assessments (GLAs) and End-of-Course Assessments (EOCs).

    What is the Missouri Assessment Program? Learn more in this overview from Missouri Parent.

    GLAs are taken in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th grades in English Language Arts and Math. 5th and 8th grade students also take GLAs in science.

    Whereas GLAs are taken at the end of a grade level, EOCs are taken at the completion of a course. Specifically, Missouri’s EOCs are offered in Algebra I & II, English I & II, Biology, American History, and Government.

    Changes to GLAs in 2014-15
    The biggest change announced by DESE to GLAs is a shift from paper tests to testing using an online platform. One of the biggest advantages to the new online platform is that school districts will receive test results (including written responses to test questions) within 10 business days after completion of testing.

    Changes to EOCs in 2014-15
    Changes to EOCs are a bit more nuanced than those to GLAs. For example, English I & II and Algebra I & II will now be aligned to the Common Core State Standards, while Biology, Government, and American History will remain aligned to Missouri Course-Level Expectations (CLEs).

    The state has announced its plans to change to the writing prompts used for the English II exam. DESE aims to publish those changes by the end of winter 2014.

    Additionally, Missouri will expand science-based EOCs to meet the updated expectation that all of Missouri’s 2018 graduating seniors have taken three science EOC assessments (Biology is currently the only science-based EOC available to students).

    GLAs and EOCs are both used to help the state measure each school and district’s Academic Achievement under the Missouri School Improvement Program. If you’d like to learn more about MSIP5 and how Missouri’s schools are evaluated for accreditation, click here.

  • Learn About the Missouri Foundation Formula

    This is Part II of a two-part post explaining the Missouri Foundation Formula. For Part I, please click here

    Previously, we discussed two of the four key components of the Missouri Foundation Formula: Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) and The State Adequacy Target (SAT). Today, we’ll explain the third and four components of the Formula: The Dollar Value Modifier (DVM) and Local Effort.

    The Dollar Value Modifier (DVM)
    The Dollar Value Modifier is an index of the relative purchasing power of a dollar across the state of Missouri. In other words, the DVM accounts for the various costs of living in different communities.

    The DVM comes into play in the Foundation Formula by providing more money to schools that operate in areas with higher costs of living.

    It’s important to understand that while schools in more expensive parts of the state receive additional funding to help cover their operational costs, schools in areas with lower costs of living do not experience a removal of funding. Funds in the Foundation Formula are never reduced as a result of lower cost of living in a school district.

    Local Effort
    While the WADA, SAT, and DVM help determine the total target amount of money that it should cost to adequately and equitably educate Missouri’s public school students, Local Effort describes the portion of that total cost that can be generated by local sources like property taxes.

    After calculating WADA, SAT, and DVM, the state subtracts Local Effort. The difference is the amount of money that the state must provide in order to ensure that the spending target is met for each student.

    The result of this final piece of the Foundation Formula is that in communities where more school funding can be generated locally, the state offers less fiscal support. The reverse is also true: in areas where less local funding is available for schools, the state’s Foundation Formula helps make up the difference to ensure that enough funding is provided so that students across the state — regardless of local wealth — receive an adequate public education.

    This two-part post was intended to give you a broad understanding of what the Missouri Foundation Formula is and why it matters for Missouri’s public schools. To learn more about recent advocacy for full funding of the Formula, read our post, Exciting News for the Missouri School Funding Formula.

    To receive regular updates on Missouri’s education policies and education news, follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter. For updates delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for Missouri Parent emails at the top of this page.


  • Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    The Missouri Foundation Formula was passed in 2005 to help ensure that all of Missouri’s elementary and secondary education students have access to adequate educational resources.

    The formula is used to establish a concrete spending target — the amount of money that should be spent (at minimum) in order to educate the average K-12 student in Missouri per academic year.

    The four basic pieces of the Missouri Foundation Formula are:
    · Weighted Average Daily Attendance
    · The State Adequacy Target
    · The Dollar Value Modifier
    · Local Effort

    Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA)
    Weighted Average Daily Attendance accounts for the average daily attendance of students in each school district as compared to the total number of hours that each student could possibly be in school during that academic year in that district.

    A detailed weighting system is then used to account for the fact that some students simply need more help (and in turn, require more resources from their districts) than others do to achieve the same academic and/or behavioral results.

    The state has identified three categories of students whose attendance in schools is weighted: those on free or reduced lunches, those with individualized learning plans and those who are deemed limited in English language proficiency.

    The State Adequacy Target (SAT)
    Two terms are used in context of the State Adequacy Target and it’s important to understand the difference between them.

    Adequacy means providing each student with an education that is “adequate”. In other words, adequacy accounts for meeting baseline educational needs.

    Equity, on the other hand, means that each school district receives total funding that is fair relative to the total funding received by other districts.

    The SAT helps the state to educate students adequately by funding districts equitably. This is where the concrete educational spending target that we mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece comes into play. When the Missouri Foundation Formula is fully funded, the SAT will ensure that each student in the state of Missouri receives (at minimum) the equivalent of the target education investment for that academic year.

    For example, in Missouri, the target for 2013 and 2014 was $6,717.17 per student. When the Foundation Formula is fully funded, each student in the state will see a total investment in his or her education equivalent to at least $6,717.17 per academic year.

    The SAT accounts for the cost of meeting all of the criteria of the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP), which is the state’s accountability system for schools and school districts. (Read more about the MSIP here.)

    To Be Continued…
    Come Back for Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula, Part II 

    Have Missouri K-12 public school updates delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page. You can also follow Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Lottery Makes $29.2 Million Contribution to Missouri Public Schools

    The Missouri Lottery made a very large contribution to Missouri public education on Friday, January 10th. A total of $29.2 million was transferred to our schools — the third largest monthly transfer in the Lottery’s 28-year history.

    What lead to the massive contribution? The Lottery saw great sales in December for the $648 million jackpot, and it set a weekly Scratchers ticket record that month as well.

    The largest-ever transfer of Lottery money to Missouri public schools was $30.4 million in April 2012. The second-largest was a $30.3 million transfer which took place in June 2013.

    Approximately 25% of the Lottery’s sales go toward Missouri public schools. That amounts to around 24.8 cents per dollar spent on lottery tickets. Overall, the Lottery’s contributions account for around 4% of Missouri’s public elementary, secondary, and higher education funding.

    Learn more about funding for Missouri’s schools:

    State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools
    Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?
    The Missouri Lottery Funds Missouri Public Schools

  • 14 Missouri Schools to Benefit from $7.5 Million Federal Grant

    The U.S. Department of Education announced on December 23rd that Missouri was one of five states to receive continuation funds through the School Improvement Grant (SIG). This was the Missouri’s 5th consecutive year to receive SIG grants, receiving $7,531.890.

    Two other states — Arkansas and Kentucky — received SIG funds to run a new competition for previously unfunded schools. In total, the SIG program granted more than $43 million in 2013 to schools across seven states.

    SIG funds are awarded to each state’s State Education Agency (SEA) (in Missouri, that agency is the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). Those state agencies then re-grant the funds to the school districts that show both need and commitment to improving student achievement.

    In Missouri those schools have been identified as:

    St. Louis Public School District:
    · Dunbar and Branch
    · Laclede Elementary
    · Roosevelt High School
    · Meramec Elementary
    · Earl Nance, St. Elementary
    · Yeatman-Liddell Middle School
    · Oak Hill Elementary
    · Sumner High School

    Riverview Gardens School District:
    · Lewis and Clark Elementary
    · Lemasters Elementary
    · Meadows Elementary
    · Moline Elementary

    Kansas City 33:
    · Martin Luther King Elementary

    Columbia Public Schools:
    · Frederick Douglass High School

    The U.S. Department of Education expects that SIG grant money will be used for the implementation of one of four rigorous school intervention models: turnaround, restart, school closure or transformation in each identified school.

    According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
    “Missouri schools that have received grants have typically used the money for additional staff such as instructional coaches or college and career readiness counselors; technology; implementation of reading and math programs; extended learning opportunities such as Saturday school, extended days, or classes during spring and winter break; improving graduation rates; and professional development for teachers and staff.”

    Up to $2 million has been award by the SIG program to more than 1,500 of the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

  • A Lesson From New Jersey Which Missouri Can Learn From

    In Part I of “A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools”, we explained how Abbott v. Burke resulted in a total — and highly effective — reform of New Jersey’s early elementary education programs in its poorest (and some of the poorest in the nation) schools.

    The Abbott model resulted in persistent test gains, lower retention rates, and a lesser need for special education services. Achievement gaps were made significantly smaller, and grade repetition was reduced by 12-19%.

    So how did New Jersey do it?

    Abbot v. Burke has been a long and expensive effort in school reform spanning 1985 (when the case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court) to present. During that time, New Jersey has:

    · Required low-income (dubbed “Abbott”) schools to undergo “whole school reform”.
    · Provided generous state support to Abbott schools to assist in reform.
    · Used state support to supply previously bare-boned classrooms with an influx of support, including books, computers, and teaching assistants.
    · Reduced class sizes. The new standard was 1 teacher to 15 students.
    · Strengthened early childhood curriculum.
    · Required that certified teachers teach all preschool classrooms.
    · Funded capital improvements that ensured that all students attended safe, educationally adequate, and not overcrowded schools.

    What Should Missouri Take Away?

    · New Jersey didn’t shuttle Abbott School students to different districts; it invested heavily in improving all aspects of those students’ educational experience in their own schools.
    · The state of New Jersey made huge financial investments in its early childhood education programs in Abbot Schools.
    · In New Jersey, the state contributed heavily to school improvement. (In Missouri, the Foundation Formula was still underfunded by $621 million in 2013, and less than 32% of public school funding came from the state.)

    Photo via Asbury Park Sun

  • A Lesson Missouri Can Learn from New Jersey’s Abbott Schools

    In one of the most important steps to protect poor and minority students since Brown v. Board of Education, the state of New Jersey has transformed preschool education for some of the lowest-income students in the United States.

    The multi-part litigation generally referred to as Abbott v. Burke covers educational issues that were first raised in New Jersey in the 1970s. The case resulted in the New Jersey Supreme Court requiring New Jersey to create a high-quality preschool education program for the 31 highest-poverty school districts in New Jersey, including providing all students with a safe, educationally adequate, and not-overcrowded school facility.

    According to the advocacy group Education Law Center, the Abbott rulings, “directed implementation of a comprehensive set of remedial measures, including high quality early education, supplemental programs and reforms, and school facilities improvements, to ensure an adequate and equal education for low-income schoolchildren.” (source)

    Implementation began during the 1999-2000 school year, and in 2005-6, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University began a longitudinal study to evaluate the state’s efforts.

    NIEER looked at the effects the improved preschool programs had on students’ language arts, mathematics, and science skills over time. What they found was impressive:

    · “…persistent gains in all tested subjects on the state assessments, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool.” (source)
    · “…participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education.” (source)
    · “In 1999-2000, less than 15% of pre-K classrooms were good to excellent and nearly 1 in 4 was less than minimal quality. By 2007-08 the vast majority of classrooms were good to excellent. (source)
    · “The Abbott model totally transformed the quality preschool education using essentially the same programs (2/3 private) and teachers.” (source)
    · The effects of attending two years of the program were “large enough to close about half the achievement gap between low-income children and their more advantaged peers.” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced grade repetition from 19% to 12%” (source)
    · “Abbott pre-K reduced special education from 17% to 12% through 5th grade.” (source)

    So how did New Jersey do it?
    Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog for Part II in this post on New Jersey’s Abbott Schools.

  • Teacher Tenure & the Legislative Session

    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education identified 12 educational issues during its public hearings in October 2013 that we can expect to hear discussed more frequently in 2014. One of those issues is Missouri teacher tenure.

    Teacher tenure is a divisive topic in our state. Part of the reason for that division is that there are a number of misconceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri. The most prominent misperception might be that tenure protects teachers from involuntary dismissal. In fact, tenured teachers can be (and are) fired in Missouri for a number of reasons.

    The Committee’s final report said that, “ideally ineffective teachers are coached into being more effective or coached out of the profession”.

    Missouri’s current teacher tenure law allows for that coaching, as well as for the immediate dismissal of teachers who meet certain dismissal criteria.

    Missouri teacher tenure is good for several other reasons as well:

    · Teacher tenure protects experienced (and more expensive) teachers from being released and replaced by less experienced (and less expensive) teachers without just cause.
    · Teacher tenure protects teachers from being fired for using unpopular or controversial teaching tactics or curriculum.
    · Tenure protects teachers from being fired for political, personal, or non-work-related reasons.
    · Teacher tenure helps to attract and retain talented and effective teachers to teach in Missouri’s public schools.
    · Tenure empowers teachers to advocate for students when those same teachers question the administrative choices of their principals or superintendents.

    As the current legislative session gets underway, teacher tenure will continue to be a contentious subject of discussion. Missouri Parent believes that teacher tenure is a good policy for Missouri’s K-12 public school teachers and students. It should be reiterated that even with tenure, any teacher can be fired at any time in Missouri for a number of reasons. To learn more about teacher tenure in Missouri, click here.

    Teacher Tenure and Teacher Shortages in the State of Missouri
    Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri

  • Getting Involved in the New Year: Joining Your PTA

    It’s a new year, and with the new year comes new opportunities. Resolutions are made, goals and set, and fresh perspectives begin on January 1st each year. This year, why not consider getting more involved in your child’s school by joining your local PTA?

    The PTA is an independent, self-governing organization that works independently of schools, school districts, or school boards. In other words, the PTA give you the freedom to work together with other parents to decide what programs and projects will best benefit your children.

    The PTA is also local. There are more than 20,000 local PTA units across the United States, represented at the National PTA level by 55 state congresses.

    Research shows that parent involvement is critical to student success. When parents are involved, kids’ test scores and school attendance improve, and they do their homework more consistently. Kids whose parents are involved in their education are also more likely to graduate high school and enroll in post-secondary education.

    If the PTA feels like a good choice for you, there are three ways to get involved:
    1. Join Your Local PTA
    (Contact the Missouri PTA office for the contact information of your local PTA. Phone: 800-328-7330 or 573-445-4161. Email:
    2. Join the Show Me State PTA
    3. Organize a New PTA

    Stay connected to the Missouri PTA:
    Missouri PTA on Facebook
    Missouri PTA on Twitter
    Visit the Missouri PTA’s Website

  • MSIP5 Performance Standard: High School (K-8) or College & Career (K-12) Readiness

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the framework for the State’s Annual Performance Reports, which are used — along with other information — to determine each district’s accreditation status.

    Not sure what MSIP is? Read this short post.

    Under MSIP, there are five distinctive Performance Standards; Academic Achievement, Subgroup Achievement, High School Readiness (K-8) (or College and Career Readiness for K-12 schools), Attendance Rate, and Graduation Rate.

    We’ve discussed Academic Achievement and Subgroup Achievement in previous posts, so today we’ll explain what the state means by Performance Standard #3: College & Career (or High School) Readiness.

    Why College & Career OR High School Readiness?
    Not all of Missouri’s schools and districts serve students K-12. The schools who do are held accountable for preparing their graduating seniors for college and career.

    The schools and districts that only serve students through the 8th grade are held accountable for preparing 8th graders for high school in the district where they will attend it.

    Six Ways Schools Can Show College & Career Readiness
    For each of these areas, schools must either meet or exceed state standards OR demonstrate “required improvement”. The six areas where schools can demonstrate college and career readiness are:

    1. Through the percent of high school graduates who score at or above state standards on tests like the ACT, SAT, ASVAB, or COMPASS
    2. Through the district’s average composite scores tests like the ACT, SAT, ASVAB, or COMPASS
    3. Through the percent of graduates who participate in in one of the above tests
    4. Through the percent of graduates who earn qualifying scores or grades on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or Technical Skills Attainment (TSA) assessments and/or receive college credit through college, dual enrollment, or approved dual credit courses
    5. Through the percent of graduates who attend post-secondary education/training or are in the military within 6 months of graduation
    6. Through the percent of graduates who complete career education programs and are placed in occupations directly related to their training, continue their education, or are in the military within 6 months of graduating

    How Schools Demonstrate High School Readiness
    For the schools and districts in Missouri who serve students through the eighth grade, high school readiness is demonstrated by percent of students who earn a proficient score on one or more of their end-of-course (EOC) assessments while in elementary school.

    As with college and career readiness, that percent must meet or exceed state standards or demonstrate required improvement.

    Was this post helpful? Then you might enjoy these Missouri Parent posts about MSIP5 and school accreditation:

    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% on Annual Performance Reviews
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?

  • Missouri Schools Roll Out Common Core Standards

    Missouri adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 with the goal of fully implementing the standards in the 2014-15 school year. A recent survey conducted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shows that the state is on track to reach that goal.

    70% of the 6,000 teachers and administrators surveyed by DESE said that they have either already or are currently implementing the standards. 55.6% are implementing them this year and 13.7% will implement them during the 2014-15 academic year.

    The remaining participants had either already implemented the standards or were unsure exactly when implementation was scheduled to be finished in their districts.

    The majority of teachers surveyed said that they felt they were receiving the training they needed for CCSS, and most also said that in order to successfully implement the CCSS, they’d need to collaborate more with colleagues.

    Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro said that the state is pleased with the progress school districts are making toward implementation of the CCSS. “The Standards are crucial to ensuring our children are prepared for postsecondary education and careers,” she said. (source)

    Quick Facts:
    · Missouri contributed to the development of the CCSS.
    · Missouri adopted the CCSS in 2010.
    · Missouri will fully implement the CCSS by 2014-15.
    · The CCSS primarily address English Language Arts and Mathematics.
    · Both content knowledge and skills are part of the CCSS.
    · Schools will continue to have local control of curriculums once the CCSS have been implemented.
    · The CCSS establish clear, consistent learning goals for all students – regardless of where they live.

    The Common Core State Standards are an important next step in ensuring that all of Missouri’s K-12 public school students, regardless of their district, reach the same overall learning goals.

    From the smallest and most rural Missouri communities to the state’s largest school districts, all of Missouri’s teachers will be expected to teach to the same standards beginning in 2014-15.

    To remain informed on Common Core State Standards and how they’re being implemented across the state of Missouri, sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates.

  • Is Average Good Enough? 2013 Nation’s Report Card Released

    The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) released the 2013 Nation’s Report Card recently, and the results beg the question, “is average good enough for Missouri’s students?”.

    The report, which focused this year on math and reading scores in the 4th and 8th grades, showed that Missouri’s students still need our support in fundamental subjects like reading and math.

    While each of Missouri’s individual scores remained the same (or showed slight improvements) from 2011 to 2013, national average scores increased more substantially. In other words, Missouri held steady while the rest of the country improved — on average at least. Here’s a closer look:

    4th Grade Mathematics
    National Rank: #49*
    National Average Score: 241
    Missouri’s Score: 240
    Percent of students nationally scoring at or above proficient: 41%
    Percent of students in Missouri scoring at or above proficient: 33%
    Change from 2011 to 2013: No Change in Missouri; 1 point increase nationally

    8th Grade Mathematics
    National Rank: #33*
    National Average Score: 284
    Missouri’s Score: 283
    Percent of students nationally scoring at or above proficient: 26
    Percent of students in Missouri scoring at or above proficient: 26
    Change from 2011 to 2013: 1 point increase in Missouri; 1 point increase nationally

    4th Grade Reading
    National Rank: #27*
    National Average Score: 221
    Missouri’s Score: 222
    Percent of students nationally scoring at or above proficient: 26
    Percent of students in Missouri scoring at or above proficient: 28
    Change from 2011 to 2013: 2 point increase in Missouri; 1 point increase nationally

    8th Grade Reading
    National Rank: #27*
    National Average Score: 266
    Missouri’s Score: 267
    Percent of students nationally scoring at or above proficient: 31%
    Percent of students in Missouri scoring at or above proficient: 32%
    Change from 2011 to 2013: No Change in Missouri; 2 point change nationally

    Source for Scores

    As the parent of a student in Missouri’s public schools, you probably don’t believe that “average” is good enough for your son or daughter. Rest assured that Missouri’s educational leaders don’t so, either.

    Missourians at all levels (local educators, state legislators, and educational advocates) have been bustling in 2013 to make positive changes in Missouri’s public education system.

    From fighting to preserve educational funding to proposing workable alternatives to the Missouri school transfer law, leaders have been making the case for your child’s right to a high quality public education in the state.

    Here some examples:

    · During the last session of the Missouri Legislature, a number of legislators helped prevent a state tax cut that would have been detrimental to Missouri’s funding of public schools.
    · The Missouri Association of School Administrators, the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis and the Cooperating School Districts of Great Kansas City recently proposed an alternative to Missouri’s school transfer law.
    · The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education just finished a statewide tour to hear from parents, teachers, administrators and communities about what’s working and what’s not working in Missouri’s public schools. (Click here for highlights)
    · The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education continues to work on the “Top 10 by 20” student achievement improvement effort

    If you want to become more informed and involved in what’s happening in your child’s education, Missouri Parent can help. We’re here to provide you with accurate and timely information on educational funding and legislative issues that impact your family.

    * Rank is out of 52 total “states” including Department of Defense (DoDEA) schools and District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

    You may also be interested in:

    Missouri’s 4th and 8th Grade Science Students Top 20 in Nation

  • 15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% on Annual Performance Reviews

    Congratulations to the following 15 Missouri School Districts for achieving perfect 100% scores on their 2013 Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) Annual Performance Reviews:

    Brentwood (K-12), Brentwood, MO
    City Garden Montessori (K-8), St. Louis, MO
    Davis R-XII (K-8) Clinton, MO
    Franklin County R-II (K-8), New Haven, MO
    Gasconade C-4 (PK-8), Falcon, MO
    Kirbyville R-VI (K-8), Kirbyville, MO
    Middle Grove C-1 (K-8), Madison, MO
    Mirabile C-1 (PK-8), Polo, MO
    Montineau County R-V (K-8), Latham, MO
    North Side Community School (K-4), St. Louis, MO
    Ripley County R-III (K-8), Gatewood, MO
    Shawnee R-III (K-8), Chilhowee, MO
    Skyline R-II (PK-8), Norwood, MO
    Spickard R-II (PK-8), Spickard, MO
    Strain-Japan R-WVI (K-8), Sullivan, MO
    Davis R-XII (K-8), Clinton, MO

    These school districts achieved perfect scores on the first set of Annual Performance Reviews (APRs) using Missouri’s new MSIP5 accountability system. The scores, released this fall by the Department of Education, will be used — along with trends in APR score and other criteria — to determine accreditation of Missouri’s schools.

    There Are Four Missouri School Accreditation Levels:
    · Accredited with Distinction: 90% & Above
    · Accredited: 70% & Above
    · Provisional: 50% - 69.9%
    · Unaccredited: 0% - 49.9%

    And Schools Are Scored in Five Performance Areas:
    · Academic Achievement
    · Subgroup Achievement
    (Includes minority students, students with limited proficiency in English, students with disabilities, students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches and students receiving special education services)
    · College & Career or High School Readiness
    · Attendance Rate
    · Graduation Rate

    Each school’s final score is compared against the total number of points available for that school. For instance, in 2013, Braymer C-4, which serves Pre-K through 12th grades, earned 135.5 points out of a possible 140, or 96.8%. Brookside Charter School, which serves K through 8th grades, earned 51 out of a possible 70 points, or 72.9%.

    There are hundreds of districts in Missouri, and these 15 schools were the only ones to achieve perfect ratings. Missouri Parent would like to congratulate the students, parents, teachers, and administrators who worked so hard to earn 100% on their APRs in 2013.

    See the complete MSIP5 2013 Annual Performance Report.
    Are you new to MSIP5? Read Missouri Parent’s overview of MSIP5.

  • 5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation

    You’ve heard talk about school accreditation in the news, but do you know what it takes for public schools in Missouri to become and stay accredited?

    The Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP) is Missouri’s system of scoring school districts. The Board of Education uses each district’s MSIP score (and other information) to determine its accreditation status.

    You may also have heard MSIP referred to as MSIP5 — That’s because every five years, MSIP begins a new cycle. Since 2012, Missouri has been under Cycle 5, or “MSIP5”. Learn more in this short post.

    Today we’ll review the five areas of performance that are evaluated under MSIP5. We’ll explain them in layman’s terms now, and we’ll go into more detail on each performance standard in future posts.

    MSIP5 Performance Standards

    1. Academic Achievement
    Each district’s Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test, MAP-Alternative (MAP-A) test, grade-level (GLA) and end-of-course (EOC) results are included in its MSIP5 Annual Performance Report (APR) scores.

    Most students’ scores are used in a district’s APR, but certain exceptions to apply. We’ll talk more about those exceptions in future posts.

    MSIP5 looks APR for the current year, as well as at APR improvement as documented over time. Those improvements can help struggling districts reach provisional accreditation.

    2. Subgroup Achievement
    To address the unique needs of all students, districts are required by MSIP to meet or exceed state standards — or to demonstrate improvement — in academic achievement for certain subgroups of students.

    Subgroups include students on free & reduced lunch, students of specific racial/ethnic backgrounds, ELA learners, and students with disabilities.

    MSIP uses the same tools to track subgroup achievement as it does to track academic achievement (MAP, MAP-A, GLA, and EOC results)

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    3. College and Career Readiness (K-12) (or High School Readiness (K-8))
    MSIP requires K-12 districts to provide students with adequate preparation for college and career and it requires K-8 districts to provide students with adequate preparation for high school.

    In order to gauge college and career readiness, MSIP5 looks at a number of things, including ACT and SAT results, college credit received for courses taken, and percentage of total students who go on to college or military service.

    To measure high school readiness, MSIP5 primarily uses results from End-of-Course (EOC) assessments.

    Note: We’ll go into more detail on measuring high school, college, and career readiness in future posts.

    4. Attendance Rate
    For schools to succeed, students need to be in attendance. MSIP5 takes the attendance of each individual student into account when assigning each district its MSIP5 score. The baseline expectation for all districts is that 90% of students are in attendance 90% of the time.

    5 Graduation Rate
    MSIP5 includes graduation rates in its scores, as well. Traditional four-year graduation rates are considered, as are graduation rates for 5+ year graduates and for graduates who meet alternative/non-traditional graduation requirements.

    Graduation can be achieved by completing any educational program that meets the graduation requirements set by the board.

  • 8 Missouri Schools Honored with 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools Award

    Each year, the U.S. Department of Education honors schools whose students have shown overall academic excellence or overall improvement in academic achievement through its Blue Ribbon Schools Award.

    This year, eight Missouri schools have earned this national honor:

    Bolivar High School, Brentwood High School, Lee’s Summit West High School, Nixa High School, Sappington Elementary School, Spokane High School, Willow Springs High School, and W.W. Keysor Elementary School are Missouri’s 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools.

    According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Blue Ribbon Schools set an example for other schools across the nation:

    "National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education,” he said.

    The Blue Ribbon Schools Award honors public and private schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Schools are evaluated on one of two criteria: high performance or improvement.

    High performing schools are schools that are ranked among the highest performing schools in the nation in reading and mathematics on national assessments. Student demographics are not taken into account for high performing schools.

    Improving schools are those with at least 40% of their populations classified as disadvantaged. These schools have reduced the achievement gap in reading and mathematics in state or national assessments in the past year.

    Congratulations to Missouri’s 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools!
    Bolivar High School (Bolivar R-I School District, Bolivar)
    Brentwood High School (Brentwood School District, Brentwood)
    Lee’s Summit West High School (Lee’s Summit R-VII School District, Lee’s Summit)
    Nixa High School (Nixa R-II School District, Nixa)
    Sappington Elementary School (Lindbergh Schools, St. Louis)
    Spokane High School (Spokane R-VII School District, Highlandville)
    Willow Springs High School (Willow Springs R-IV School District, Willow Springs)
    W.W. Keysor Elementary School (Kirkwood R-VII School District, Kirkwood)

    Missouri’s Blue Ribbons School Award recipients will be among the 236 public and 50 private schools who are acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education at a national recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 18th and 19th, 2013.

  • What are Missouri’s Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation?

    Recently, we outlined the new Model Educator Evaluation System for public school teachers, principals and superintendents.

    Each Missouri elementary and secondary school is required to either adopt this new evaluation system or implement its own system that aligns with the seven Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation.

    Of those seven Principles, three address the structure of the evaluation process and four address the process itself:

    (1) Clear Expectations: Research-Based & Proven Targets
    Teachers will be evaluated using a clear, research-based system that aligns to state and/or national standards and state laws.

    (2) Differentiated Performance Levels
    Teachers should continually improve their educational practices. Opportunities for each teacher’s growth and development will be identified based on where a teacher is on the system’s professional continuum [Link to “Expecttions of Missouri’s Public School Teachers Depend on Experience Level” post].

    (3) Probationary Period
    Evaluators will gather performance data during new educators’ first few years on the job; a time of critical growth and development for teachers. During that time, new teachers will be inducted into the school, mentored based on state standards and given non-evaluative socialization support.

    (4) Student Measures
    Teachers should be held accountable for their students’ learning growth. The state’s evaluation standards make it possible for educators to use a number of metrics to measure growth in student learning over time.

    (5) Regular, Meaningful Feedback
    Receiving feedback is critical to teacher growth. In order to help teachers continually improve, they’ll receive ongoing, deliberate, meaningful and timely feedback both formally and informally. The culture for teacher feedback should be collaborative and conversational — designed to encourage conversation throughout an educator’s career.

    (6) Evaluator Training
    Evaluators — including master teachers, peers, and other trained parties — will receive standardized training initially and throughout their time as an evaluator. For students to grow, teachers need to grow, and well-trained evaluators are an important part of teacher feedback.

    (7) Use of Evaluation Results
    Highly effective educators should be recognized and utilized to improve student learning, while ineffective educators should be targeted for intervention and professional support. Personnel employment decisions and school policies should be informed by the results of educator evaluations.

    “Effective educator evaluation systems promote the improvement of professional practice resulting in the improvement of student performance.”
    -Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

    Each of the Essential Principles of Evaluation is proven and research-based. More than 100 schools in Missouri piloted the new evaluation system during the 2012-13 school year, and the new system was approved by the Missouri State Board of Education in May 2013.

    To learn more about Missouri’s new Educator Evaluation Standards, click here. For an explanation of the “professional continuum” mentioned above, click here.

    Do you want to receive information about your child’s K-12 Missouri public school education directly in your inbox? Sign up for MOParent email updates at the top of this page.



  • Expectations of Missouri’s Public School Teachers Depend on Experience Level

    On May 14, 2013, the Missouri State Board of Education approved the Educator Evaluation System. This new system evaluates teachers, principals and superintendents throughout their careers.

    As part of the evaluation system, a continuum was design to show where an educator is in his or her career. The continuum is designed to reflect a teacher’s performance rather that his or her years of service.

    According the Executive Summary of the Educator Evaluation System, “the professional continuum identifies expectations of performance at the candidate level (pre-service) and at four levels of performance for the teacher, leader and superintendent.”

    This post will focus on the continuum for teachers, but similar spectrums exist in then new system for principals and superintendents, as well. The four levels of teacher experience on the professional continuum are defined as “Emerging Leader”, “Developing Teacher”, “Proficient Teacher”, and “Distinguished Teacher”.

    Teachers are expected to show increased maturity, knowledge and skill over time. As a teacher gains experience, the expectations of his or her performance change. What follows is a general overview of how the state’s new evaluation system outlines career growth along a teacher’s professional continuum:

    At each level of performance in teacher’s career, the expectations of him or her increase in each of nine “Standards”; (1) content knowledge, (2) student learning, growth, and development, (3) curriculum implementation, (4) critical thinking, (5) positive classroom environment, (6) effective communication, (7) student assessment and data analysis, (8) professionalism, and (9) professional collaboration.

    Emerging Leader: A new teacher who applies base knowledge and skills as he or she begins to teach. He or she advances student growth and achievement in his or her classroom.Developing Teacher: A teacher early in his or her assignment who continually develops his or her teaching, content, knowledge, and skills as he or she encounters new experiences and expectations in the classroom, school, district, and community. This teacher continues to advance student growth and achievement.

    Proficient Teacher: A career, professional teacher who continues to advance his or her knowledge and skills while consistently advancing student growth and achievement.

    Distinguished Teacher: A career, professional teacher whose performance exceeds proficiency and who contributes to the profession and larger community. This teacher consistently advances student growth and achievement and serves as an educational leader in the school, district, and the profession.

    The Missouri Educator Evaluation System clearly articulates “quality indicators” for each of those nine standards, and it defines how an Emerging, Developing, Proficient, or Distinguished Teacher who meets each standard would teach and/or lead students and other teachers in his or her school, district, or community.

    The overarching goal of the Educator Evaluation System is to improve student performance, and student performance will only improve as long as each teacher continually improves his or her own practice.

    The new system for evaluating Missouri’s teachers is designed to drive continuous teacher improvement (and student performance) at every stage of a teacher’s career.

    To learn more about the Educator Evaluation System, read the MOParent post, Understanding Missouri's New Teacher Evaluation Standards.

    Do you want to stay up to date on what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools? Subscribe today for MOParent email updates!

    MO Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Passionate California Student Speaks Out Against School Reform

    A student from the state of California put the education reform debate into perspective in live and in real-time during a community event in California featuring educational reformers Michelle Rhee, George Parker, and Steve Perry.

    Standing in front of a packed auditorium and speaking directly to Rhee, Parker and Perry, Hannah Newwhen asked educators to “listen to the students”. Newwhen argued fiercely against school reform:

    “I felt like this whole event was looking at the education policies issues as a reformers versus teacher’s unions kind of issue, and as a student, standing here and watching this battle is really disheartening. Because it’s a lot deeper than that, and these are our [students’] every day realities. This is more than a reformers versus teacher’s union battle; this is a social justice issue.”

    Newwhen received resounding applause from the audience before she was cut short because the moderator had “run out of time.”

    In a follow-up blog post called “What I would have said if I had gotten more time”, Newwhen continued her arguments against high stakes testing and educational reform:

    “Students are not data points on a graph you can talk about but never listen to. They are humans with hearts, minds, and stories of their own. They are resilient and beautiful and insightful. They deserve better than high stakes tests that don’t capture their humanity…”

    Newwhen went on to voice her views on schools, poverty, and policies that are written without student input:

    “[Students deserve]…better than charters that exclude and criminalize certain youth, better than the poverty that creates an opportunity gap well before they begin school, better than limited curriculum that doesn’t allow them to explore other options, better than policies that instill fear and oppress critical thought, better than budgets that leave their schools and classrooms dilapidated and unbearable, better than decisions that are made without their input.”

    Newwhen left her readers with a call to action to refocus school reform on students.

    “We can do better than current reform. We can do much better because our youth deserve much better,” she said.

    Missouri Parent would like to hear your thoughts on the issues:
    - Do you think that the education policy debate has become a “reformers versus teacher’s union issue”?
    - If you’re a Missouri student, do you feel that students’ perspectives are being heard and respected by policy makers, educators, and reformers?
    - What do you think about high stakes testing; do you think that high stakes testing ignores the humanity of Missouri’s students?
    - Leave a comment letting us know what you think, and if you want to stay up-to-date on school reform issues and how they affect Missouri’s public schools, subscribe to the MOParent Blog at the top of this page.




    Inspired Education

  • Would You Like to Be More Involved in Your Student’s School? Here’s How!

    Did you know that your involvement in your child’s education is one of the biggest influencers of his or her academic success?

    “When parents are involved in school, students of all backgrounds and income levels do better. When their parents are involved, kids are more likely to earn higher grades and score better on standardized tests; they attend school more regularly, have improved social skills, and are better behaved in school; and they are more likely to continue their education past high school.” - “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement” by Anne T. Henderson and Karen Mapp

    There are many ways that you can get involved in your child’s education, including volunteering, getting to know your child’s teacher(s), leveraging your own career or professional experiences, and making sure that you’re covering the basics.

    Back to Basics:
    - Attend school open house events;
    - Attend parent-teacher conferences;
    - Know the names of your child’s teacher(s) and principal(s);
    - Join the PTA or PTO;
    - Attend your child’s performances, games, or other events;
    - If your child has friends whose parents can’t be at events, offer to help those families with rides to and from practice, events, and other activities;
    - Meet your child’s friends and their parents;
    - Read to or with your child;
    - Establish routines for studying and homework; or
    - Ask your child how school went every day!

    Ways to Volunteer:
    - Volunteer in the classroom;
    - Read to kids in the school library;
    - Help out in the lunchroom;
    - Volunteer in the school office;
    - Sit on school committees;
    - Help with school fundraisers;
    - Tutor students;
    - Chaperone field trips, dances, or events;
    - Lead a PTA or PTO committee; or
    - Help out in the school computer lab.

    Offer Your Experiences or Special Skills
    - Speak to a classroom of students about what your career is like and what kind of education or training you needed for your field;
    - Help build sets or sew costumes for school programs or theater productions; or
    - Use foreign language skills by volunteering as a translator or cultural liaison between your child’s school and parents whose first language isn’t English.

    Reach Out to Your Child’s Teacher(s)
    - Proactively introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s);
    - If your child’s classroom has a website, read it regularly, and interact (comment, etc.) if that’s allowed; and
    - Find out from the teacher if there are any classroom supplies that he or she could use, and work with other parents to help acquire them. (Remember that many teachers pay for classroom supplies and decorations out of pocket.)

    What have you done to stay involved in your child’s education? We’d love to hear your experiences, advice, or suggestions to other parents! Leave a comment, below.

    What to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools? “Like” Missouri Parent on Facebook or subscribe to email updates from the MOParent Blog. Just enter your email address and zip code at the top of this page.

  • State-Level Funding for Missouri Public Schools

    Yesterday, we explained how Missouri compares against national averages for federal, state, and local public education funding. Today, we’ll explore primary sources of state-level funding for our schools.

    In Fiscal Year 2014, Missouri will invest $3,385,298,854 in elementary and secondary education. That $3.4 billion will cover 31.76% of Missouri’s K-12 public education costs. The schools will look to the federal government for 10.13% of their overall state education funding, and to local sources for the remaining 59.01%.

    Of the $3.4 billion Missouri will spent on public education in FY14, 83.7% comes from Missouri’s General Revenue, and the rest comes from gaming, lottery, and other sources.

    State General Revenue (83.7%)
    Missouri’s General Revenue funds most of the state’s primary functions, including social services, health care, and public education.

    General Revenue is collected from individuals and business in Missouri through individual income taxes, sales and use taxes, corporate income taxes, corporate franchise taxes, refunds, and other collections.

    Gaming (11.4%)
    The Missouri Gaming Commission regulates charitable and commercial gambling in Missouri. Each year, the Commission ensures that a portion of Missouri’s gaming revenues is allocated to supporting public education. In recent years, gaming has directly contributed to Early Childhood Development, Education and Childcare in the state.

    Lottery (4.2%)
    The Missouri Lottery is another significant source of support for Missouri’s K-12 public schools. Each year, the Lottery appropriates funds for public education through Missouri House Bills 2, 3 and 6.

    To see exactly how the Lottery has divided its allocations, click here.

    Other (0.7%)
    Public schools are also funded through an assortment of smaller “other” funds. These funds include the Fair Share Fund revenues which are generated from tax receipts from four cents per cigarette pack; County Foreign Insurance Tax with comes from a tax on insurance premiums of companies not based in Missouri; and many other smaller revenue sources.

    Learn More About Missouri’s Schools
    If you want to know more about K-12 public education in Missouri, you can subscribe for MOParent email updates at the top of this page.

    To learn more about funding for Missouri’s schools, be sure to read yesterday’s post, “Where Does Missouri’s Public Education Funding Come From?”.

  • Your Opinion: What Should the Goal Be of Missouri’s Public Education System?

    Recently, we happened onto a blog post at Education Week that caught our attention. In the post, Tom Segel, an analyst for Rethink Education, asks teachers, professors, authors, and other educational advocates two seemingly simple questions:

    “In your opinion, what is the current goal of the American Public Education System? What should be the goal of the American Public Education System?”

    Today, we want to hear from you — the parents of Missouri’s public education students — about what you think public education’s goals should be. Leave a comment below this post or on the MOParent Facebook Page to Segel’s questions, above. Or use some to our own questions, below, as prompts for discussion:

    · When a child graduates high school, what would you hope they would have learned, achieved, or accomplished in Missouri public schools?
    · When your child graduates, what do you hope he or she is prepared to accomplish in the future?
    · How important is it for schools across the United States to share common standards for learning?
    · How much flexibility do you think schools should allow for student to focus on areas of strength or areas that need attention?
    · Is one of the goals of public education to be competitive with other countries’ public education achievements?
    · How important is “college readiness” in public education?
    · How important is “workforce readiness” in public education?
    · Do you think that understanding diversity (and learning to work with diverse groups of peers) should be a goal of public education?
    · What should public schools teach?
    o Should arts be taught in schools?
    o Should physical education be taught in schools?
    o Is it a teacher’s job to teach manners and study skills?

    We want to hear from you! Leave a comment today below or on our Facebook Page, and be sure to share this conversation with your friends and fellow Missouri parents!

  • Dispelling the Achievement Gap Myth Between Public and Private Schools

    Private schools have an elite reputation, but research shows that private school students may be not be performing as well as those students enrolled in public schools.

    The Research
    In 2007, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) published a 38-page research paper that compared several different types of public and private schools.

    The research also took into account “…other aspects of family life that are also critically important in shaping students’ academic, civic, and economic life.”

    The CEP study accounted for, “key background characteristics, including students’ achievement before high school, their family’s socioeconomic status (SES), and various indicators of parental involvement”.

    The CEP’s paper was the first of its kind to include such family educational activities and attitudes toward education in its research, and the findings tell a story that Missouri public school parents will be glad to hear.

    The Findings
    The CEP’s study found that students in “urban public high schools generally did as well academically and on long-term indicators as their peers from private high schools, once key family background characteristics were considered.”

    The CEP’s Four Core Findings:

    1. Students attending independent private high schools, most types of parochial high schools, and public high schools of choice performed no better on achievement tests in math, reading, science, and history than their counterparts in traditional public high schools. 

    2. Students who had attended any type of private high school ended up no more likely to attend college than their counterparts at traditional public high schools. 

    3. Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up with no more job satisfaction at age 26 than young adults who had attended traditional public high schools. 

    4. Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up no more engaged in civic activities at age 26 than young adults who had attended traditional public high school.

    According to the CEP, “Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that students who attend private high schools receive neither immediate academic advantages nor longer-term advantages in attending college, finding satisfaction in the job market, or participating in civic life”.

    What Does This Mean for Your Child?
    As a Missouri parent, you want your child to succeed in school — and in his or her life after high school graduation. While private schools may seem distinguished, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of public and private education.

    If you enjoyed this post and want to receive future email updates about Missouri public schools, subscribe to the MOParent email list at the top of the page.

  • Missouri Public Education: Attendance Means Achievement

    Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, but before she was a psychologist, Dr. Duckworth was a schoolteacher in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago.

    An Ivy League graduate, Dr. Duckworth had worked in education, management consulting, and the nonprofit sector before beginning to conduct the research that she’s now so known for — research which shows that “grit” is the key predictor of educational achievement.

    Dr. Duckworth has researched students ranging from national spelling bee competitors to United States Military Academy cadets, and she has found the same results in each of her studies: “grit” is a stronger predictor of success and achievement than IQ score, talent, or passion.

    What does Dr. Duckworth mean by “grit”? In her words, grit isn’t just being passionate — it requires sustaining that passion over a long period of time. It isn’t about short-term success or even about intelligence.

    “Peak skill is achieved after years of deliberate practice,” says Dr. Duckworth in this TED Talk. “Most people don’t have the grit to sustain that deliberate practice, so they tend to peak early.”

    Grit is defined by perseverance, tenacity, and doggedness. Grit means staying on a clear path to achieve long-term goals. Grit means consistently working towards long-term goals, year after year.

    The grit of Missouri’s public education system is evident in its attendance policies, its graduation rates, and its steadily increasing student MAP scores .

    Missouri’s public school system has shown marked improvement in elementary education scores for science, math, reading, and communication arts. Test scores show that our students are becoming increasingly successful in English, geometry, American history, and government. Four-year graduation rates are on the rise, as well.

    Public Education in the state of Missouri is on a course of steady improvement, and as Dr. Duckworth says, “History and psychology tell us that changing our minds a lot is not a good way to get anywhere. We must stay on task.”

    Now is not the time to reinvent the system. Now is the time to stay the course of public education in the state of Missouri.

  • Common Core Standards – Teaching Persuasive Argument

    Students who are able to understand information, take a position about that information, and form logical arguments about it will be ahead of the curve in high school, college, and career.

    That’s why persuasive argument is one of the cornerstones of the English Language Arts Common Core Standards. 

    What is Persuasive Argument?
    If your child has ever come home from school tasked by his or her teacher to write a persuasive essay, then your child has been asked to form a persuasive argument. The goal of persuasive writing is to convince the reader that your position is better than the alternative or opposite position.

    How Common Core Standards Incorporate Argument

    According to Common Core Standards, “to build a foundation for college and career readiness, students need to learn to use writing as a way of offering and supporting opinions...”

    Argument is an Anchor Standard for English Language Arts Grades K-12.

    · Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
    · Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    (Anchor Standards Grades K-12)

    Argument is incorporated into English Language Arts Standard with increasingly complexity as students advance from one grade level to the next.

    Beginning in the 6th grade, for example, students should be able to identify arguments written by others. The Common Core Standard for 6th graders is: “Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.”

    In junior high, students are expected to “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence”. Students should be able to write arguments based on “substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence” in their 9th through 12th grade years.

    Common Core Standards — including these standards on persuasion and argument — keeps Missouri’s students on track for college and career success.

    To learn more about Common Core Standards and why Missouri’s public schools use them, bookmark the MOParent blog and sign up for MOParent email updates.

  • The Cost of Private Education for Missouri Families

    Previously on the MOParent Blog, we talked about how teacher qualifications and student diversity may both be stronger in Missouri’s public schools than its private ones. Today, we’ll talk about the cost of private school education.

    The Cost of Private School Education
    On average, private elementary school tuition is $6,733 per year and private secondary school tuition is $10,549. 

    At the national average, then, private school education from the 1st through the 12th grades costs $96,060 per child. The average cost of a full-time, in-state, four-year undergraduate degree from Missouri’s public universities (counting tuition and fees) is less than $30,000. That means that the average family could send three children to Missouri four-year universities for less than the cost of sending a single child through 12 years of private schools.

    In a state where the unemployment rate hovers at around 6.8% (May 2013) and the median income is still $5,000 per year lower than the national average, most Missouri families cannot afford private education for their children.

    The Cost of Public Education
    As a taxpayer in the state of Missouri, you have already invested in your child’s public school education. Your child is entitled to a free, fair education from kindergarten through high school graduation at no out-of-pocket fee to you.

    The vast majority of Missouri families are educationally price-sensitive. By attending public schools, you can invest extra income into extracurricular activities, specialty camps, private lessons and tutors for your child. And the money you save as the parent of a Missouri public school student is money that you can invest in helping your child go to college.

    Want to Learn More?
    To receive email updates on your child’s Missouri public education, subscribe — at the top of this page — for MOParent email updates.

  • Two Reasons to Choose Missouri Public Schools

    In today’s blog post, MOParent will address several reasons why Missouri parents should think twice about choosing private schools over public ones.

    Teacher Education
    The same study found that 45% of public school teachers hold master’s degrees while just 38% of nonsectarian teachers had earned master’s degrees.

    If the experience and education of your child’s teachers is important to you, be sure to talk with your local school district as well as with the private school in consideration before assuming that local private schools offer better teachers. The results my surprise you.

    There’s no doubt that today’s school-aged children need to build productive working relationships with colleagues of a variety of backgrounds when they enter the work force later in life. Public schools may prepare your child for professional diversity more effectively than private schools do.

    Only 10% of American students attend private schools, and the majority of those attend schools with religious affiliations. When only a small portion of the population is represented in your child’s school, and that population is further segregated based on religious preference, tuition costs and geography, your child’s classmates are likely to be less diverse and more alike.

    Missouri public schools, however, educate children of all socio-economic statuses, all ethnicities, all languages, and all religions. By attending Missouri public schools, your child is educated in an environment that’s as diverse as your local community is. If preparing your child for the diversity of college and career is important to you, Missouri’s public schools are a fantastic option for him or her.

    If you’d like to receive updates about Missouri public school education directly in your inbox, subscribe to MOParent email updates in the box at the top of this page.

  • Reusing & Personalizing School Supplies

    Reusing & Personalizing School Supplies

    As your child heads back to school this fall, you’ll face a few unavoidable expenses. Today we’ll talk about how to save money (and keep your kids smiling) by reusing and personalizing basic school supplies.

    Reuse It
    Some school supplies are easy and convenient to reuse at the beginning of the new school year.

    Here are a few examples:
    Lunch Boxes
    Pencils & Pens

    If last year’s school supplies are functional, but leave your child less than enthusiastic about the first day of school, consider personalizing those reused school supplies using some the ideas below.

    Personalize It
    To make reused or generic school supplies more special, consider personalizing them. By letting your creativity (and your child’s) out to play, your child’s “old” school supplies will feel new, fresh, and most importantly, uniquely theirs.

    Here are a few ideas:
    · Use scrapbook paper to recover a reused three-ring binders, folders, and notebooks.
    · Cover reused pencils and pens or embellish notebooks, folders, glue bottles and other supplies with “washi tape” (patterned, decorative masking tape available in craft stores) or brightly-colored duct tape.
    · Help your teenager decorate notebooks and folders with magazine collages or photographs or friends.

    Pinterest abounds with other fun (and often inexpensive) ideas. Want to make personalizing school supplies even more fun and less expensive? Coordinate with other parents to have a school supply decorating party.

    When each family brings a few decorating supplies to share, everyone saves, and when kids decorate their school supplies with friends, they’ll be even more excited to show them off on the first day of school.

    Fore more ideas on how to save money back-to-school shopping this fall, check out these 5 Back-To-School Savings Tips

    For more tips and information designed just for Missouri parents, subscribe to MOParent’s email updates at the top of this page!

  • Missouri Educators Speak Out Against HB 253

    Dr. Lori Van Leer, Superintendent of Washington (MO) Public Schools (source: LinkedIn)

    Across the state, Missouri’s educators are speaking out against House Bill No. 253, which could wreak havoc on public education budgets. A survey of news sources across the state reveals superintendents statewide are going on the record against HB 253.

    Here’s what some of those superintendents have to say:

    “There has been no Board action, but we support the Governor’s stance on this issue. If it’s [HB 253] passed, it [HB 253] would have a dramatic financial impact on public education and could be absolutely devastating for some districts. We are hopeful the veto stands.”
    - Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, West Platte Superintendent in the The Platte County Citizen (8/1/13)

    “This is not a time in our state’s history to be experimenting with policies that could significantly damage, if not completely devastate, schools and others that would be impacted by the potential this would not work.”
    -C.J. Huff, Joplin Superintendent in the Joplin Globe (7/28/13)

    “In addition to underfunding the entire education system of the state, Missouri provides zero dollars for professional development for educators in our struggling school districts and classroom technology needs are either being met by local tax payers or going completely unanswered.”
    -Paul Ziegler, Northwest R-1 School District Superintendent and President of the Missouri Association of School Administrators (7/21/13)

    “I fail to see how we can advance this country and advance our school systems that are charged with educating youth with dwindling resources. Education is fundamental to our success locally, as a state and as a nation. Missouri wants to be more, yet it grossly underfunds the one thing that can drive our economic engine.”
    - Dr. Lori VanLeer, Washington Superintendent in (7/25/13)

    “Unfortunately, House Bill 253 could put all of our past success and future opportunities at risk by taking money away from our schools and by making it more expensive to improve our facilities for students. That’s why we are continuing to talk to our elected representatives about the need to support our schools and protect taxpayers by sustaining the Governor’s veto of House Bill 253.”
    -Norm Ridder, Springfield Public Schools’ Superintendent in The Ozarks Sentinel (8/8/13)

    House Bill No. 253 is not in the best interest of Missouri’s students or the schools they attend. 

    To learn more about HB 253 and how educators across the state are responding to the General Assembly’s opportunity to override Governor Nixon’s veto of the bill, sign up for MO Parent email updates today.

  • 5 Back-To-School Money Savings Tips

    Back-to-School can be exciting for kids and parents, but it can also leave the pocketbook a little sore. Today on MOParent, we’ve got a few tips for you on how to save on Back-to-School shopping.

    1. Budget
    Back-to-School shopping is a great time to teach your older kids about budgeting. Set back-to-school budgets for each category of costs; clothes, shoes, supplies, and share those budgets with your kids. Shop together with you kids and help them understand how their choices impact their shopping budgets.

    For extra incentive, offer a special treat or a “bonus” for spending under-budget on school costs. This is a good way to inspire kids to reuse items that don’t absolutely need to be replaced annually.

    2. Buy In Bulk
    Consider going in together with another family or two to buy generic school supplies (number 2 pencils, notebook paper, tissues, etc.) in bulk from stores like Costco or Sam’s.

    3. Everything’s a Dollar
    Discount stores where everything costs $1 often carry basics like crayons, pencils, and folders. Brand names and fancy designs are fun, but not necessary. Shopping at less expensive stores will help your back-to-school budget stretch further.

    4. Stick to the List
    Sticking to the list of school supplies published by your child’s school is a good way to save money on unnecessary items. And where clothes shopping goes, be sure you know the dress code at your child’s school; some of the clothes your son or daughter likes in the store may not be okay in the classroom.

    5. Spread it Out
    While it may not save your bottom line, spreading back-to-school purchases over a few different paychecks will ease the sting of school shopping costs. If possible, ask your child’s teacher (or a parent whose child had the same teacher the previous year) whether any supplies can be purchased later in the school year.

    Back-to-school should be fun for your child, and hopefully these tips make shopping a little bit more fun for you, too. For more tips like these, sign up for MOParent email updates.

  • Independent Credit Agencies Say HB 253 Bad Idea

    Three leading independent credit rating agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s — show that House Bill 253 poses serious risk to Missouri’s financial health and long-standing AAA credit rating.

    Missouri House Bill 253 was vetoed in June by Governor Jay Nixon, who called the bill “an ill-conceive, financially irresponsible experiment that would inject far-reaching uncertainty into our economy, undermine our state’s fiscal health, and jeopardize basic funding for education and vital public services.”

    Governor Nixon’s veto could be overturned when the General Assembly meets on September 11th for its annual veto session. It will take 109 votes in the Missouri House to overturn the Governor’s veto, at which time the bill would move to the Missouri State Senate. In the Senate, 23 votes are needed to officially overturn Governor Nixon’s veto, placing Missouri public education in danger.

    “We believe that if the Missouri legislature overrides the governor’s veto [of HB 253] and enacts the legislation, and the federal government passes the Marketplace Fairness Act, it has the potential to result in a significant financial impact to the state, despite requirements for the maintenance of a balanced budget.”
    Standard & Poor’s in its July 24th Report on HB 253

    In its August 8th coverage of the House Bill 253 veto, The Ozarks Sentinel said:

    “The negative impact of House Bill 253 on schools in the Springfield area would be significant. When fully implemented, the cost each year could be $4.3 million for Springfield schools; $800,000 for Branson schools; and $2 million for Nixa schools. If the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, the cost for the current year could be $7.5 million for Springfield schools; $1.3 million for Branson schools; and $3.5 million for Nixa schools.”

    To learn what the impact of House Bill 253 would be on your school district, check the Foundation Formula Scenario published by the state.

    Do you want to remain informed on Missouri House Bill 253 and other state and local policies that affect your child’s education in the state of Missouri? Subscribe today to MO Parent email updates.

  • What Missouri Educators Are Doing to Fight HB 253

    Read the bill and veto message for yourself by clicking the image above.

    In June 2013, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed Missouri House Bill 253, calling it “an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment,” in part because of the damage it could to do state-funded services including public education.

    “House Bill 253 is a reckless fiscal experiment cooked up by a few special interests that could knock Missouri permanently off course and send us heading in the wrong direction.”

    Missouri teachers and administrators agree with Governor Nixon, arguing that the state’s public education system is already underfunded, and that HB 253 will only compound existing funding issues.

    According to the Missouri Association of School Administrators, “Missouri’s statutorily required formula for school funding is underfunded by over $600 million his year”. The additional financial effects of HB253 would be devastating to individual school district’s budgets.”

    School districts across the state are raising awareness and contacting their legislators.

    One example is in Springfield, Missouri, where the Springfield Board of Education recently passed a resolution urging the Missouri General Assembly to sustain the Governor’s veto of House Bill No. 253:

    “Today, Missouri’s GDP is up, unemployment is down and our perfect credit rating is intact. However, House Bill 253 puts all of this progress in jeopardy by funneling millions of dollars away from our public schools – and into the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists – each and every year. House Bill 253 is a reckless fiscal experiment cooked up by a few special interests that could knock Missouri permanently off course and send us heading in the wrong direction.”

    On September 11, the Missouri General Assembly will vote to sustain or override Governor Nixon’s veto of House Bill No. 253. 109 votes would be necessary for a House override, at which time the bill would move into the Missouri Senate. 23 senators would need to vote in favor of overriding the Governor’s veto.

    If Governor Nixon’s veto is overruled, Missouri’s schools will suffer. To find out how HB 253 would affect your local school district, click here.

    To stay up-to-date on this and other policies issues that could affect your child’s access to a free, quality public education, sign up today for MO Parent email updates.

  • Back to School Safety: How Will Your Child Get to School This Year?

    As summer draws to a close, it’s time to plan for the new school year. Shopping for new school supplies and back to school clothes is exciting, but there’s another important decision you and your child will make together this fall; how he or she will get to and from school.

    August is Back to School Safety Month, and MOParent is here with practical safety tips for you and your family. In this three-part post we’ll talk about the safety pros and cons of the four most popular methods of school transportation; walking, bike riding, car transportation, and the school bus.

    The Bureau of Justice Statics has published rates of violent crimes among 12-19 year olds since 1973. From that time through 2003, the rate of violent crime against 12-19 year olds fell from 80 cases per 1,000 children to 50 cases per 1,000 children.
    –Source: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

    Safety Statistics and School Commutes
    Many parents shy altogether away from walking and biking for fear of their child being approached by strangers, bullied, or injured at a traffic crossing. In fact, “fear of crime against children” ranks as one of the top reasons many parents won’t allow their children to walk or bike to school.

    Thankfully, kids might be safer walking to school than we think. Kidnappings are incredibly rare, and only a very small percentage of all of them happen within the vicinity of schools. Another piece of good news is that violence against teenagers has actually fallen since the 1970s:

    Only you and your family know what’s best for your child’s school commute, but we’ll share ideas, tools and advice over the next two days that may help you feel even more secure about your child’s school commute.

    Come back tomorrow for tips on walking or biking safely to school. In two days we’ll talk about transportation by bus and by car.

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  • Missouri Public Schools: What to Expect During the Enrollment Process

    Today we’re wrapping up our five-part public school enrollment series by giving you a practical idea what to expect during the enrollment process.

    As always, please communicate directly with your child’s school when you have specific enrollment questions.

    5 Common School Enrollment Steps

    1) Contact Your Child’s School – Verify exactly what documentation you’ll need for enrollment and ask when the best time is to come to the school to begin enrollment. It’s never too early to begin learning more about your district’s specific policies and deadlines.

    If your enrollment will be in-person, be sure you know where to go! Some districts will ask you to enroll at your child’s school, while others may only provide enrollment services through an administrative office elsewhere in the district.

    2) Gather/Prepare Documentation & Paperwork – Gather and organize your child’s documents before enrolling. Arriving at the school organized and ready-to-go will make the process smoother for you, and it’ll also make a good impression on your child’s school.

    3) Enrollment –New student enrollment is still done largely in-person, while many Missouri students can re-enroll for subsequent school years online in many Missouri districts. Arrive on time and prepared with the right paperwork, and enrollment should go smoothly.

    4) Meetings with Teachers & Administrators – You may have the opportunity to meet your child’s teacher or principal. If you’re new to a school or district, this is a great way to begin building relationships with your child’s educators. And if your son or daughter has met his or her teacher in advance, his or her first day of school will be a little easier.

    5) Open Houses – Most schools offer an open house at the beginning of each school year. You should attend open house with younger children, while older kids may prefer to attend their open house independently or with friends. Open houses help you child get comfortable with his or her new school, teacher(s), and classroom(s).

    Enrollment in a new school should not be a scary experience for you and for your kids. We hope that this five-part feature has helped you know what to expect, and that you’ll continue to use the MOParent Blog as a resource about your child’s public school education.

  • Enrollment in Missouri Public Schools: Additional Documentation Parents May Need

    Today is part four in a five-part series on public school enrollment in Missouri. Yesterday  we outlined the basic expectations your child’s public school will have for academic and behavioral records.

    Today, we’ll talk about the “odds & ends” of public school enrollment; the paperwork and documentation that might vary from school to school, district to district, and grade level to grade level.

    Be sure to come back tomorrow as we wrap up our five-part series with our “What to Expect During the Enrollment Process” post.

    Other Paperwork
    Over the last three days, we’ve explained the general expectations your child’s Missouri public school has for documentation around your child’s identity , medical records, academics , and behavior . We also offered a few tips on identifying which public school your child should enroll in.

    Your school may also ask you to complete additional documentation including technology agreements (allowing your child to use school computers, Internet, etc.), language questionnaires (to learn more about your child’s proficiencies in languages other than English), and questions preschool questionnaires.

    These questionnaires aren’t a test; they’re another way for your child’s school to ensure that they’re providing your child with the best education they can.

    Tomorrow on the MOParent Blog: What to Expect During the Enrollment Process
    Come back tomorrow to learn more about the process of enrollment in Missouri public schools.

    If this post has been helpful, consider signing up for MOParent email updates at the top of this page.

  • Enrollment in Missouri Public Schools: Academic & Behavioral Records

    Over the last two days, we’ve begun to explore the Missouri public schools enrollment process. Two days ago, we discussed finding your child’s public school, and yesterday we talked about identity verification and medical records.

    Today we’ll outline the role of academic and behavioral records in school enrollment.

    Academic Records
    If your child has past academic records, his or her new school will ask you to sign a release form that allows them to request those records from your child’s previous school.

    If your child is entering kindergarten for the first time, this won’t apply. If your child is enrolling in public school after homeschooling, contact your local school district to find out what information they’ll need about your homeschooling curriculum as part of your child’s enrollment.

    If this series of posts has been helpful for you, consider signing up for MOParent email updates at the top of this page!

    Behavioral Records
    Missouri’s public schools will also request information about your child’s behavior history.

    If your child is transferring from another school, it’s important to realize that your child’s behavior records will travel with him or her to the new school. There’s no “out-running” disciplinary records, so if your child has any documented behavioral issues, you should be prepared to talk through those with administrators at your new school.

    If your child is entering school for the first time, this is also when your child’s school will work with you to ensure that any known special needs are being addressed.

    If your child has any special behavioral needs, the school will likely develop an individualized educational plan (IEP) for your son or daughter. Don’t be intimidated — this is just one more way Missouri public schools work to ensure that your child receives a quality education.

  • Enrollment in Missouri Public Schools: Documentation

    Yesterday on the MOParent Blog, we talked about finding your child’s Missouri public school. Today we’ll talk about documentation and other paperwork you might need to fill out or provide to complete as part of the public school enrollment process.

    Missouri public schools will require a few pieces of important paperwork from you. This paperwork will fall into a few categories, including identity, medical, academic, and behavioral records.

    To enroll your child in Missouri public schools, you’ll need to verify your child’s age and identity, as well as your residence inside the district. Examples of documentation you might need for this process include your child’s birth certificate or passport, a utility bill in your name that shows your current address inside the school district, or a notarized letter from the owner of the residence with whom your family is living inside the school district.

    Each district may have slight variations on acceptable documentation, so be sure to contact your child’s school to confirm exactly what they’ll need from you.

    Medical Records
    Public schools will require a health summary of some sort, including your child’s immunization records

    Some schools will require basic eyesight and hearing tests to be performed. Your child’s school will also want to be able to provide the best possible learning environment for your child, so any relevant medical or developmental disabilities should be shared during enrollment.

    Come Back Tomorrow For…
    Tomorrow on the MOParent Blog, we’ll explain the academic and behavioral records your child’s school will need to enroll in school.

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  • Enrollment in Missouri Public Schools: Finding Your Child’s School

    If you’re new to Missouri public schools, or if you’re enrolling your child here for the first time, this series of blog posts is for you. MOParent will help you understand what the enrollment process is like for your child, and we’ll point you in the right direction for additional resources.

    Finding Your Child’s School
    If you live in a smaller Missouri community, you probably already know which school your child will. But if you live in a larger Missouri city you might need help finding your child’s school.

    The Missouri School Directory Online allows you to search for Missouri schools by district, county, or legislative district. For example, if you live in Springfield, Missouri, you can see a list of all Springfield R-XII schools and their contact information, as well as the contact information for the district.

    Many school districts also publish maps showing geographic boundaries for each of its schools. This example from the Columbia Public School District shows the locations of all 36 schools in the district, and helps families understand which schools are closest to their homes.

    If you’re unsure which school your child should be enrolled in, MOParent encourages you to contact your local school district for more information. Missouri public schools are here to ensure that your child receives access to a free public school education, and the first step is making sure that you know which school your child will attend.

    Once You’ve Identified Your Child’s School
    Come back tomorrow to learn more about the enrollment process, including what paperwork you’ll need to gather before enrollment.

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  • Common Core Standards: Not a Federal Initiative

    If your child is a student in school in Missouri, then you’ve probably heard about Common Core Standards. What many parents don’t know is that Common Core isn’t a federal reform initiative.

    The Federal Government’s Role in Common Core
    The federal government didn’t develop Common Core Standards, and it doesn’t require states to adopt them. The U.S. Government doesn’t sponsor Common Core Standards, and it doesn’t administer them, either.

    The History of Common Core
    No Child Left Behind was approved broadly and on both sides of party lines. And while its intentions may have been good, No Child Left Behind inadvertently triggered a lowering of school standards in schools.

    Under No Child Left Behind, the federal government set certain “proficiency” standards that states needed to meet, but it left the evaluation of those “proficiencies” up to the states. States could either keep high standards (but fail No Child Left Behind standards if not all students could reach them), or they could lower their standards to a level that all students could meet.

    Educational quality didn’t change — testing standards did.

    Who Is Responsible for Common Core
    Common Core was created by an independent, bipartisan group of governors, nonprofit organizations, and the Council of Chief State School Officers who wanted schools to have a set of well-researched and peer-reviewed standards that showed what students across the nation should learn in each grade level. Common Core Standards are not part of No Child Left Behind.

    Educational experts were consulted, extensive research was cited, and all standards were thoroughly reviewed by teachers and other educational professionals before being published.

    The Common Core Standards are not a curriculum — they’re a tool that schools and teachers can use to make sure that kids are learning what they need to learn in order to be competitive in college and career.

    The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsor the Common Core Standards, and each state decides independently whether to use them. According to the Common Core State Standards website, 45 of 50 U.S. States, four territories, and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core Standards.

    The Future of Common Core
    Most states that currently participate in Common Core don’t have plans to change their participation in the new school year, and there’s no reason to believe that Common Core will be “owned” by the federal government any time soon.

    For more on the future of Common Core Standards, and how Common Core is good for Missouri, keep coming back to MOParent.

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  • Free and Reduced School Lunches in Missouri

    Free and reduced lunches may not have the negative stigma they once did. In a recovering economy, more and more families are turning to Missouri public schools for nutritious, inexpensive meals for their children.

    The National School Lunch Program
    This federally assisted program was established in 1946 by President Truman. The NSLP operates in over 100,000 public schools, nonprofit private schools, and in residential child care centers, providing “nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.” More than 31 million students benefited from the program in 2011.

    Not Just Lunch
    The NSLP was expanded in 1998 to include “reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs to include children through 18 years of age.” Many schools also offer free and reduced breakfasts.

    Who Qualifies for Free & Reduced Lunches?
    The formula for free, reduced, or full-price lunches is straightforward:

    · If your family earns 130 percent or less of poverty level, your child is eligible for free meals.
    · If your family earns 130 to 185 percent of the poverty level, your child is eligible for reduced-price meals. (Students will be charged no more than 40 cents.)
    · If your family income is more than 185 percent of poverty, your child will pay full price for his or her school meals.

    It’s important to note that even “full priced” school lunches are partially subsidized. Each local school district determines its own prices for meals, but schools are required to operate meal programs on a strictly not-for-profit basis; your child’s school is not allowed to profit from school meal fees.

    If your child is involved in afterschool programs where snacks are made available, eligibility for free or reduced snacks is the same as for free and reduced lunches. The only exception is that in schools where the student population is at least 50 percent eligible for free or reduced meals, all snacks can be served to children free.

    How to Apply for Free or Reduced Meals
    The USDA explains the process for enrollment in the NLSP program, including current income eligibility requirements, program application forms, and information on how application for unemployment may qualify your child for the NLSP program.

    Learn More
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  • Things Parents Should Know About In-State School Transfers in Missouri

    Transferring your child to a new school mid-year can be stressful for you and your son or daughter. Thankfully, Missouri has a streamlined transfer process that will make things a little bit easier for you and your child.

    Request Your Child’s Records

    A student may be denied enrollment if the student’s discipline record indicates that he/she is currently suspended or expelled from another school, including a private, parochial, charter or out-of-state school, and the enrolling school would have suspended or expelled the student for the same offense.
    –Safe Schools Act

    Your child’s current school is required by the state to forward his records on to his new school within five working days of your request.

    In addition to academic records, special needs, and disciplinary records will also move with your child to his new school. If your child has been expelled in his old school, his expulsion will likely apply at his new school as well.


    Before you begin the transfer process, you should be sure that his vaccinations are up to date. If your child’s vaccinations are not current, he may not be allowed to enroll in his new school.

    If you’re concerned about the cost of immunizations, your child may qualify for the Missouri Vaccines for Children Program.

    A student may be denied enrollment if the student has not met the state’s immunization requirements for entering school.
    –Safe Schools Act

    Your child will need to have proof of identification in order to enroll in his new school. A birth certificate or social security card may be enough, but it’s a good idea to call the new school before you begin the official transfer process to be sure you have the right documentation.

    Activities & Athletics
    The Missouri State High School Activities Association offers strict guidelines around student activity eligibility. If your child is involved in school teams or organizations, you should closely review the MSHSAA eligibility standards before you transfer schools. It’s also a good idea to meet with the athletic director at your child’s current school and at the school your child will transfer to so that you can ask questions and familiarize yourself with the nuances of MSHSAA’s transfer policies.

    Special Needs
    Parents of children with special needs should become familiar with the same general transfer steps above. In addition, your child’s current school will need to send your child’s IEP on to his new school, and your child’s new school may conduct interviews with you, your child, and your child’s current school staff to better support your child’s unique needs in the new learning environment. For details on in-state transfers for your child, MOParent recommends that you speak directly with your child’s old and new school.

    For more helpful tips on Missouri Public Schools, sign up for MOParent email updates!

  • Three Great Reasons to Use the School Bus

    Missouri students have several options for transportation to and from school. Today we’ll share three reasons why riding the bus to and from school is a great option in Missouri.

    School Buses Reduce Your Family’s Carbon Footprint
    Putting your child on the bus to and from school helps reduce emissions by keeping additional automobiles off the road.

    The positive impact you and your child will make on the environment by choosing the school bus is substantial.

    According to, each school bus on the road replaces 36 cars, saving 2.3 billion gallons of fuel, $6 billion, and 44.6 billion pounds of CO2 nationally.

    The School Bus is Your Child’s Safest Ride to School
    Did you know that studies have shown that the school bus is your child’s safest ride to and from school?

    According to Linda McCray and John Brewer, “The safety record for school bus transportation exceeds that of all other modes of travel.”

    WebMD puts the statistics into perspective:

    "When on a school bus, your child is driven by a professional driver in a reinforced vehicle designed to include bright flashing lights, stop sign arms, and other special safety features. The school bus is, statistically, the safest choice of transportation to and from school."

    Riding the Bus is Cost Efficient
    When you choose to use the school bus instead of driving your child to school, you’re not only keeping your child safer and reducing your family’s carbon footprint, you’re saving money, too.

    When money is tight for families, school districts, and the nation, every cost savings opportunity helps. Consider saving your family and your district money by encouraging your child to ride the bus to and from school.

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  • Eight Missouri Schools Honored with Gold Star Recognition

    Eight Missouri schools were honored as Gold Star schools in 2013. Missouri’s 2013 Gold Star Schools are:

    Bolivar High School (Bolivar R-I School District), Bolivar, MO

    Brentwood High School (Brentwood School District), Brentwood, MO

    Lee’s Summit West High School (Lee’s Summit R-V-II School District), Lee’s Summit, MO

    Nixa High School (Nixa R-II School District), Nixa, MO

    Sappington Elementary School (Lindbergh Schools), St. Louis, MO

    Spokane High School (Spokane R-VII School District), Highlandville, MO

    Willow Springs High School (Willow Springs R-IV School District), Willow Springs, MO

    W.W. Keysor Elementary School (Kirkwood R-VII School District), Kirkwood, MO

    The Gold Star Schools Program is a state-level recognition program, administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Founded in 1991, the Gold Star Schools Program has rigorous criteria that are aligned with the national Blue Ribbon Schools program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

    The national Blue Ribbon programs identified both “high performing schools” and “improved schools”. Each of the eight schools recognized as Missouri Gold Star Schools have also been nominated for the national Blue Ribbon program. Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in Fall 2013.

  • Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri

    Teachers in the state of Missouri achieve tenure after five years teaching full-time in the same school system. Teacher tenure does not prevent teachers from leaving their jobs, though, and tenure does not protect inadequate teachers from being fired. 

    Teachers May Leave Tenured Positions

    Tenured teachers are empowered to cancel their indefinite contracts, just as the school district may still terminate a tenured teacher. 

    Teachers who are tenured may terminate their contracts for the coming school years on or before June 1st without school board permission. Even if a teacher signs a contract in the spring, the teacher can leave the contract by providing written notice to the school district on or before June 1st of that same year. 

    Schools May Fire Tenured Teachers

    Perhaps one of the biggest misperceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri is that tenured teachers are protected from involuntary dismissal. 

    In fact, tenured teachers’ employment can be terminated involuntarily under several circumstances:

    ·         If the teacher has a physical or mental condition that renders him or her unfit to instruct or associate with children.
    ·         For immoral conduct.
    ·         For incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination in the line of duty.
    ·         For willful or persistent violation of Missouri’s school laws or the local school district’s published policies or regulations.
    ·         For excessive or unreasonable absences.
    ·         For conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.

    Is the School Required to Give the Teacher a 30-Day Improvement Period?

    In Missouri, unless a teacher is terminated on the basis of “incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination,” the teacher is not entitled to an improvement period. The school board is allowed to proceed immediately with the termination process. In other words, tenure does not protect teachers from being fired.  

    Written Notice of Termination

    School districts who terminate tenured teachers are required to serve the tenured teacher with “written charges specifying the grounds it believes exist for termination and notice of the right to a hearing”. 

    If the teacher does not request a hearing within 10 days of being served with written notice of dismissal, the school board may terminate the contract by a majority vote. 

    In addition, the school board may suspend teachers (with pay) during the termination process. 

    Teacher tenure in Missouri does not protect unfit teachers, nor does it protect teachers who have missed an excessive number of classes. Missouri’s teacher tenure does not project teachers who have broken Missouri’s school laws, state laws, district policies, or Federal laws. 

    Despite common misperceptions, tenured teachers in Missouri can still be fired.

    To learn more about teacher tenure and other educational policy issues in the state of Missouri, sign up for MOParent email update at the top of this page.

  • What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the state’s school accountability system for reviewing and accrediting public school districts in Missouri. 

    MSIP began in 1990, and has completed four cycles. MSIP entered its 5th cycle (MSIP5) this year. 

    MSIP Cycles
    Cycle 1: 1990-1996
    cycle 2: 1996-2001
    Cycle 3: 2001-2006
    Cycle 4: 2006-2012
    Cycle 5: 2012-Present

    4 Policy Goals of the MSIP

    The Missouri School Improvement Program has four policy goals, including articulating expectations for student achievement, distinguishing school and district performance, empowering stakeholders, and promoting continued improvement. Specifically, the goals of the MSIP are to: 

    1) Articulate the state’s expectations for student achievement with the ultimate goal of all students graduating ready for success in college and careers; 

    2) Distinguish performance of schools and districts in valid, accurate and meaningful ways so that districts in need of improvement can receive appropriate support and interventions, and high-performing districts can be recognized as models of excellence; 

    3) Empower all stakeholders through regular communication and transparent reporting of results; and 

    4) Promote continuous improvement and innovation within each district. 

    MSIP Resource, Process, and Performance Standards

    MSIP standards are used to review and accredit public school districts in Missouri. These standards are organized into three categories: Resource Standards, Process Standards, and Performance Standards. 

    Annual Performance Reports (APRs)

    Annual Performance Reports (APRs) are generated for every public school, district and charter local education agency each year. APRs are established based on each school’s Performance Standards, and they are used to determine appropriate supports and interventions needed at the school and district level. 

    Four Levels of Accreditation

    MSIP 5 articulates four levels of Missouri school accreditation. Those levels are:
    Accredited With Distinction – Equal to or greater than 90% of the points possible on the APR and meets other criteria yet to be determined by the State Board of Education.

    Accredited – Equal to or greater than 70% of the points possible on the APR.

    Provisional – Equal to or greater than 50% to 69.9% of the points possible on the APR.

    Unaccredited –Less than 50% of the points possible on the APR. 

    Are you curious to know what your school district’s accreditation level is? This PDF from the Missouri State Board of Education includes a comprehensive list of 2012 Accredited, Provisionally Accredited, and Unaccredited schools. 

    Would you like to learn about MSIP5 and how it affects your child and your local schools? Sign up for email alerts from MOParent today.

  • Immunizations for Missouri Students at Every Age

    Missouri’s public schools want to keep your child safe and healthy from preschool through graduation and beyond. That’s why Missouri has built recommended immunization schedules based on the nation’s leading immunization, disease, pediatric and family medicine organizations.

    That’s also why Missouri offers the Vaccines for Children Program, which we’ll talk about later in this post.

    Immunizations from Birth to Six Years Old
    From birth to age six, your child will probably receive a number of important immunizations, many of which can be given in combination, reducing the number of individual trips you’ll need to make to your doctor’s office or county health office.

    Some of these immunizations include Hepatitis A & B; Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); and Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTap). Your child will likely receive his or her Hepatitis B shot at birth, while the remaining immunizations are spread out over his or her early years of life.

    Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services’ Easy to Read Immunization Schedules

    Birth to 12 Years 

    7 to 18 Years

    Immunizations for Eleven and Twelve Year Olds
    Between the ages of eleven and twelve, it’s recommended that your child be protected against Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV), Human Papillomavirus with a TDap booster.

    Catch-Up Schedules & Booster Shots
    If you’ve fallen behind on your child’s vaccinations, don’t panic. Instead, contact your pediatrician, family doctor or county health office to review your child’s immunization records and build a catch-up schedule for remaining vaccinations.

    Some immunizations that your child is given at a young age will need a follow-up “booster” shot in your child’s preteen or teen years. Talk with your doctor or county health office to make sure your child is up to date on all recommended shots.

    Free Vaccines
    Are you concerned about the cost of your child’s vaccines or worried that your health insurance won’t cover immunizations? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers free vaccines for children who qualify. You can learn more about Missouri’s Vaccines for Children Program here

    Why Vaccinate?
    "Missouri's immunization program is working to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases by providing vaccines to children and adolescents who cannot pay for them through the Vaccines for Children Program; educating health care professionals, medical providers and the public on the importance of vaccinations; and ensuring that children who are in child care and school are adequately immunized against diseases that are harmful and sometimes deadly."
    Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services

  • Missouri’s Public School Bus Fleets Benefit from Doe Run, Co. Settlement

    As part of a 2010 agreement with the EPA, Lead producer, the Doe Run Co., will give $500,000 to help Missouri’s school districts decrease the carbon footprint of their bus fleets and improve environmental practices in school science labs.

    The Doe Run Co. began making grants available to Jefferson County schools on a first-come, first-served basis in February of this year. The Hillsboro, Jefferson R-VII, Dunklin, Windsor, De Soto, Grandview and Festus school districts were selected to receive grant funding. Any remaining funds were schedule to be made available to schools in Dent, Iron, Washington, Scott and Reynolds Counties on August 1,2013.

    There are $300,000 in grants available for retrofitting diesel-powered bus engines to reduce emissions. Doe Run, Co. will also contribute $200,000 to help schools remove hazardous waste or old chemicals from science labs, photo and art studios, and dark rooms.

    According to the Doe Run, Co., “After receiving the Doe Run grant, each school district will contract independently with their maintenance providers or vendors to complete the work on each engine. Upgrades are aimed at reducing school bus emissions of nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds by up to 90 percent. School districts will be required to share data reporting reductions and progress with Doe Run.”

    In total, Doe Run, Co. will contribute $3.5 million to fund Missouri school districts and another $2 million to community-based projects, some of which include Missouri public school projects as part of the same 2010 agreement with the EPA.

  • More Missouri Students Attending Full-Day Kindergarten

    Enrollment in full-day kindergarten has increased by more than 10% — from 85.6% to 95.7% — since 2006, according to the Missouri Top Ten by 20 Dashboard . This is great news for the state of Missouri.

    The fact that Missouri offers full-day kindergarten is a sign that Missouri is ahead of the national learning curve for the public education of young students. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, 94% of Missouri’s children attend full-day kindergarten, while only ten states and the District of Columbia require full-day kindergarten to be provided and publicly funded at all. Thirty-four states require at least half-day kindergarten, and six have no requirement at all for public kindergarten programs.

    Is Full-Day Kindergarten Overrated?
    Research shows that students who attend full-day kindergarten programs build stronger academic foundations that their peers who attend part-day programs or don’t attend kindergarten.

    Strategies for Children cites research that students who attend full-day kindergarten programs learn more in reading and math and exhibit more independent learning, classroom involvement, and productivity in work with peers than children who are enrolled in half-day kindergarten programs

    At-risk and low-income students, especially, benefit from full-time kindergarten instruction.

    A study of 17,600 Philadelphia students found not only that low-income students performed better in full-day than half-day kindergarten, but that school districts saved a substantial sum of money in reduced retention rates of those full-time kindergarten students in the first, second and third grades. 

    Missouri has a 22% child poverty rate and 34% of Missouri’s children live in single parent families. 146,000 Missourians receive WIC (Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program) support, and nearly half a million adults and children in Missouri receive welfare

    When so many of Missouri’s students and families are low-income, Missouri’s record high enrollment in full-day kindergarten is especially meaningful. We are setting the next generation of students up for academic — and life – success.

    Is your child or a child in your care nearing kindergarten age? Enrollment in Missouri’s full-time kindergarten programs is free in most districts. Contact your local public school district to find out how to enroll your child.

3550 Amazonas Drive, Jefferson City, MO 65109. 573-638-4825