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Everything listed under: Preparing for College

  • Missouri Legislature 2015 Wrap-Up Post


    The First Regular Session of the 98th Missouri General Assembly ended on May 15th. During the 4.5-month-long session, a number of bills affecting Missouri public schools were the subjects of debate. From budgets to bullying to school transfer law, here’s a summary of the biggest education-related bills of the session.

    State Budget Approval & the Foundation Formula
    Congress passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget. The budget, which will go into effect July 1st, includes an $84 million increase in funding for the Foundation Formula. Despite the increase, the Formula remains under-funded by more than $440 million.

    Learn more: Understanding the Missouri Foundation Formula

    Supplemental Budget Approval
    The state’s supplemental budget bill, which helps cover unexpected expenses in the current year, was passed during the legislative session. The bill allocated $3.78 million to K-12 schools and $3.4 million to early childhood special education programs.

    A+ Funding for Illegal Immigrants
    Legislators passed a bill that will exclude illegal immigrants from qualifying for Missouri A+ Program scholarship funding. The bill was designed to ensure that residents have state scholarship funding priority. Opponents of the bill are concerned that students brought to the United States as children are being punished unfairly and prevented from achieving higher education goals. (Source)

    Learn more: Missouri’s A+ Program Benefits Thousands Each Year

    Higher Education Funding
    HB3 increases funding for Missouri’s public higher education institutions by $12 million. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

    School Transfers
    Legislature passed a school transfer bill (HB42) that opponents hope will be vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. The bill, which would expand charter and virtual schools in the state, would also affect accreditation and school transfer.

    Under the bill, individual schools — not entire school districts — would earn accreditation. Students would be able to transfer from a failing school to an accredited school in their home districts. If an accredited school doesn’t exist in the student’s district, the student could still transfer outside the district.

    Failing schools would still be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for transfer students. The bill placed no limits on the cost of tuition charged by receiving districts. (Source)

    Learn more: School Transfer: An Expensive Law for Struggling Schools

    Day Care Bill
    SB341, which was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, requires day care centers to establish safe sleep policies and to disclose registration of unvaccinated children. The bill also establishes reporting procedures for juveniles with sexual behavior issues. (Source)

    A prominent anti-bullying bill didn’t survive the session. HB458 would have made school anti-bullying policy requirements stricter. The bill defined bullying and cyber bullying, and called for schools to play a more active role in suicide prevention. Many schools already have already enacted written anti-bullying policies on their own, but the bill would have legally required them to do so. (Source)

    Learn more: Bullying in Schools: How Adults Can Help

    A New President for the State Board of Education
    Unrelated to lawmaking, but coinciding with the legislative session, the State Board of Education elected a new president, Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, to replace former president Peter Herschend. Shields is the Chief Operating Officer at Truman Medical Centers, and served 20 years in the Missouri General Assembly. (Source)

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. We aim to provide accurate and timely information on education funding and legislative issues that impact public education.

    To continue to learn about policies affecting your child’s Missouri public school education, bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Missouri Promise


    Good grades and community service could mean free tuition for Missouri college and university students if the Missouri Promise plan continues to gain traction. The plan, which would pay tuition and fees for tens of thousands of Missouri college and university students, is rapidly gaining momentum.

    Many of Missouri’s two-year colleges have already shown support for Missouri Promise, and its four-year colleges and universities are preparing to make their support for the plan public. Supporters hope to see the plan added to the November 2016 ballot as a state amendment.

    Proponents believe that the plan will encourage Missouri’s best students to attend college in state, and to remain in state after graduation. Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel said that, “Missouri Promise is based on the notion that the most powerful thing we can do as a state is invest in our future.” (Source)

    According to, Missouri loses a large percentage of its best-performing high school students to out-of-state schools. Even worse, many of those students don’t attend college at all. Only 60% of high school students who earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher attended college or a university in Missouri, they said.

    The Missouri Promise plan would encourage high school students to attend school in state by paying their tuition and fees for state colleges and universities. To qualify, students would need to earn a 3.0 GPA in high school, perform community service, and maintain a 3.0 GPA in college.

    “Missouri Promise is about creating a culture of expectations, one that includes an element of responsibility for both parents and students. It empowers students early on to work hard, get good grades and demonstrate good citizenship. When we encourage meaningful investment in families, we also make a promise to Missouri employers that we will have a ready supply of high-quality human capital available to compete in the global workforce.” (Source)

    Missouri Promise has the potential to be an excellent opportunity for Missouri residents who might not otherwise be able to afford college tuition. We’d love to hear from you: would Missouri Promise help your child to pursue higher education? Leave a comment here or on the Missouri Parent Facebook Page today.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook or Twitter, and be sure to bookmark Missouri Parent News!

  • Healthy Competition Teaches College and Career Readiness


    Last week we posted a story on emerging applications of entrepreneurship in education. This week, we’ll highlight a more traditional program—one that’s promoted entrepreneurship and business skills in Missouri’s schools for more than 65 years: DECA.

    DECA’s mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management, and its competitions—which happen at the district and state level—give students a chance to practice those skills in an environment that’s just as competitive as the real world is.

    DECA’s Comprehensive Competitive Events Framework is focused on academic and community development, professionalism, and teamwork. Specifically, DECA trains Missouri’s students to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, and leadership savvy.

    Students can compete in DECA competitions individually or on small teams. Competitions cover a variety of areas, including advertising, entrepreneurship, merchandising, business development, business law and ethics, finance, and management.

    Competitive DECA events are designed to be appropriate for each instructional level, and to be a tool for teachers to use to improve teaching and learning. DECA competitions are tied directly to learning standards in schools, and in order to be a DECA member and competitor, students must be enrolled in relevant classroom coursework.

    Learn more about Missouri’s learning standards.

    Competitions are a way for students to earn advanced credit or to meet college admissions requirements. DECA students learn real-life business and entrepreneurship skills that prepare them—and inspire them—for college and career: More than 90 percent of DECA members plan to further their studies DECA-related subjects, or to become entrepreneurs, and 30 percent are very interested in starting their own businesses. (source)

    Missouri’s relationship with DECA is long-standing. It was one of the charter states of the National DECA program in 1948, and its membership has grown to more than 9,000 alumni today. (source) Internationally, DECA has more than 200,000 members. Missouri DECA is one of the many ways that business-minded high school students can pave the way for college and career.

    Learn more about DECA:
    DECA - college and career readiness
    DECA Competitions
    Missouri DECA
    Missouri DECA Scholarships

    Missouri Parent is a free service to all Missouri parents and others who have an interest in public education. One of our goals it to provide information to parents that will help their children be successful in school. Bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on your child’s public school education.


  • What Your Students Can Do in the Summer

    All public schools in Missouri take a summer break. The history of ‘schools out for summer’ is an interesting one and you can learn more about it here

    While out of the classroom, there are still plenty of learning opportunities available to prevent the ‘summer slide.’ Here are a few large and small occasions for your student:

    Plan a college visit
    Days off in summer are a perfect time for families to take their teens, and even middle school students, to a college campus to give their higher education dreams and goals a dose of reality.

    Give back to their community
    There are never a shortage of volunteer opportunities in any area of Missouri. From working with local non-profits to pitching in with their own schools, a volunteer position may be something that helps to impact the life of a student for decades to come.

    A summer job
    If it’s working in an office, an amusement park, or a farm, summer is a perfect time for older students to learn personal financial skills and to develop personal traits when dealing with the public and co-workers. A summer job will also give them new perspectives on what it takes to ‘bring home the bacon’ for their parents. These jobs will also help them to build their resumes for college and future employment applications. Check out resources like LinkedIn for opportunities for high school students.

    Keep on reading
    One of the most important actions a student can take to keep their learned skills sharp is to read. In fact, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has begun a program called ‘Read MOre, Missouri’ to encourage summer reading. Experts says that reading just six books during the break can prevent regression and students from having to catch up once the fall semester begins.

    Whatever you and your students do this summer, have fun, be safe, and take time for learning opportunities.

    Stay in touch with policy updates relating to Missouri public education and learning tips like this one by signing up for our periodic email newsletters and connect with us on social media.

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  • Exploring College While in Middle School

    Here we are towards the end of May and your Facebook timeline, and maybe even your personal schedule, are filled with high school graduation activities. Many of those graduates will soon begin their higher education journeys.

    Some may have started those journeys while still in high school.

    A program, called College Immersion, is seeking to create those journeys with even younger students. The program focuses on connecting middle school students with college campuses by having them attend specially designed college classes for one week.

    The study began at the public Queens College in New York in 2007 and a second study took place at the private St. John’s in 2010. Both studies continue to this day.

    While a voluntary program, middle school students who have been invited to participate are considered ‘at-risk’ due to behavior, familial background, or recent immigration status. The study notes “that research on the critical nature of early adolescence, the need to build a solid academic foundation early, and the signs of dropping out that can be seen in middle school, create unique opportunities for partnerships between middle schools and universities.”

    While the first day or so on the college campus can be rough for the middle school students, finding show by the end of the week the students are excited about college and look to change their secondary education plans to include more preparation for higher learning.

    The study posits that even small exposures to life in college at a young age, a week or even a day, can impact a younger student's perception of college and their ability to continue their education post-high school graduation.

    If you have a graduating senior this year, when did you begin their exposure to college studies and college life? We urge you to leave your answers in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

    You can read the entire study here.

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  • Money Saving Tips for First-Time College Students and Parents

    As we near the end of another school year, many of our readers and their graduating seniors are experiencing the transition from K-12 education to college life.

    A big change everyone in this transition will experience is the cost of living increase. Here are a few tips for your family to keep expenses under control:

    Textbooks Are Expensive
    One of the biggest sticker shocks of anyone’s life is when they discover the price of college textbooks. One tactic to save money on needed class materials is to buy them as early as possible to avoid the higher prices some procrastinators pay. Another is to look online for used or rental copies of needed books. In cases like this, sites like Amazon and Big Words can become a student’s best friend.

    Busses Aren’t Just For School
    Public transit is generally available in most university and college towns. Using these affordable and available resources can help to save money which would otherwise go to payments, insurance, and upkeep of a personal car. For those trips home on the weekend there are options such as Greyhound, Megabus, and ride share programs available.

    Cover Yourselves
    From unruly roommates to untrustworthy acquaintances, student property can be at risk when away at school. A good renter’s insurance policy can end up saving you thousands of dollars in replacement costs for broken or stolen electronics or equipment.

    Enjoy these days in your new education journey with your graduating student and if you have any additional ideas for first-time college parents to save money, feel free to share them in the comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter profiles.

  • Saving for College…and for Childcare?

    A 2013 study by Child Care Aware® America says that childcare costs more than in-state tuition does in 31 states in the nation, including Missouri.

    The Child Care Aware® study isn’t the first to try to provide insights into the complex financial equation of daycare expenses, college tuition, and income from one or both parents. Should both parents work outside the home or should one parent stay home full time? Does a stay-at-home-job make sense for one parent? Is part-time employment possible? If it is, does it pay enough to balance the cost of childcare during the hours when both parents work? And what about single-parent families: What’s the best way for a single mom or dad to provide for kids?

    Families face innumerable considerations when making childcare, employment, and college savings decisions. Likewise, there are a number of variables at play when comparing a state’s college and childcare costs against those in other states: Some states offer heavier subsidies for in-state college tuition than other states do. Cost of living also varies from one state (and region of that state) to another, and daycare costs can differ dramatically depending on the amount and quality of care a child receives.

    Childcare is a significant investment for your family — In Missouri the bottom line is that childcare costs about $400 a year more than in-state tuition does. As a result, the decisions you make now about child care are just as important, financially speaking, as those you’ll make later about college.

    Make sure your child is getting the most out of day care by thoroughly researching the options in your community. Look for providers who have education or certifications in early childhood education or child development, and don’t forget that summer day camps and summer school programs can be a great way to keep older kids learning, even when they’re not in school.

  • Gallup Poll Finds American Students “Not Success-Ready”

    A recent Gallup Business Journal story warns readers that “most…students in the U.S. aren’t success-ready”.

    The April 10th article cites data from Gallup’s fall 2013 State of America’s Schools report, which surveyed 616,203 public school students in the 5th through 12th grades. Only 33% of the survey’s respondents were deemed “success-ready”, meaning that they were “hopeful, engaged, and with thriving well-being.” (source)

    It’s important to note that while the Gallup pole provides valuable insights, it was only completed by a small percentage of the total U.S. student population. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), approximately 55 million Pre-K through 12th grade students were enrolled in public and private schools in the U.S. in the fall of 2011. Assuming that the same number of students was enrolled in the 2013 school year, the approximately 600,000 students polled by Gallup represent only about 1.1% of the total student population in America.

    If the NCES’s projections are accurate, more students were enrolled in public and private schools in the U.S. in 2013 than in 2011, lowering the Gallup poll’s percent representation of American students a bit more. It should be pointed out that the Gallup poll also only represents public school (not private school) students.

    Still, the State of America’s Schools report offers an intriguing perspective on how prepared (or not) our children are for the future: It’s not common to see student success measured in qualitative, personal terms like “hope” and “engagement”. According to Gallup, “The primary application of the Gallup Student Poll is as a measure of non-cognitive metrics that predict student success in academics and other youth development settings.” (source)

    Perhaps the most fascinating insight offered by the Gallup poll is that when a student has a teacher who makes him or her feel excited about the future, that student shows significantly higher rates of hopefulness and engagement in his or her own education.

    To learn more, download the State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education report from Gallup’s website or read the story in the Gallup Business Journal that we’ve cited here.

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  • How Can the Missouri MOST 529 College Savings Plan Help Your Child?

    It’s never too early or too late to begin saving for your child’s college or trade school expenses. Whether your child just started Kindergarten or whether he or she will begin driving this year, the Missouri MOST 529 College Savings Plan can help you prepare for the future.

    The 529 savings plans are special investment accounts designed to help families save for higher education at eligible two- to four-year colleges, postgraduate programs, or secondary trade and vocational schools. Nearly all accredited colleges, universities, and vocational/trades schools in the United States are 529-eligible. Funds cover qualified expenses like tuition, books, and certain room and board fees.

    Any U.S. citizen can open a MOST 529 account, anyone can contribute to the fund, and there’s no enrollment fee. Accounts can be managed online, and contributions can be as little as $25 each. The maximum total contribution to a MOST 529 plan is $325,000.

    529 plans are tax-deferred, and as long as they’re used for qualified higher-education expenses, they’re exempt from federal income tax. Missourians can deduct $8,000 ($16,000 for married couples filing jointly) in annual contributions from their Missouri taxable income.

    Missouri even offers a MOST 529 Matching Grant Program that allows families with a 529 beneficiary who’s 13 or younger to qualify for a matching grant up to $500. Account holders need to submit a new Matching Grant Program application every year.

    Many Missouri businesses make MOST 529 plan contributions available through payroll deduction. Ask your human resource or payroll representative for more information. If he or she isn’t familiar with the MOST 529 program, a MOST 529 representative can be requested to speak with him or her using this form.

    Navigating your son or daughter’s education is a big job, and we’re here to help. Follow our Facebook Page, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog, or sign up for our email updates for a regular stream of practical tips and information.

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