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Everything listed under: Achievement

  • Read MOre, Missouri! Helps Prevent Summer Slide


    “Read MOre, Missouri!” is a statewide summer reading challenge to prevent summer slide — a loss of learning that many students experience while they are out of school for the summer. The program is designed to help your son or daughter keep reading skills sharp between school years.

    Reading through the summer minimizes reading-specific summer slide, and Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven says, “Kids who read during the summer are much more likely to retain the skills they gained during the school year.”

    Summer slide is a layman’s term for the academic regression kids have during the summer months when they aren’t in school. Teachers often have to spend several weeks of the new school year reviewing information from the previous grade level before they can begin teaching the current year’s coursework.

    Here’s what the loss looks like in reading for kindergarteners through fourth graders:


    To help prevent summer slide, every school district in Missouri is encouraged to take part in Read MOre, Missouri. Here’s what you should know before your child comes home talking about the challenge:

    · Experts say that reading just six books during the summer can help keep kids from having to play catch-up in the fall.
    · The program uses The Lexile® Framework for Reading to help you pick books out for your kids that match their reading levels.
    · The Read MOre, Missouri website helps you search more than 200,000 books so that you can find the ones that are written at your child’s Lexile® level and are about subjects your child enjoys.
    · The site sorts books by more than 28 categories, including everything from humor & games to sports to animals — and more.
    · Once you build your child’s reading list, you can download it or print it. You can take the list with you to the local library or a bookstore to find your child’s books.
    · Your local library offers print editions as well as digital books for your child to read on the Kindle or tablet.
    · Any reading is better than no reading, so encourage your child to read magazines, news stories, or even recipes in addition to the books on their summer reading list.

    Read MOre, Missouri is a program of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). You can read the DESE press release here, and you can learn more about the Lexile® Measure Framework for reading in this post.

    Learn more about how to help your child succeed in his or her Missouri public school education by bookmarking Missouri Parent News and by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Caring for Our Kids Helps them Learn Reading and Math


    In 2008, a researcher in England published a working paper that showed something that many hard-working parents in Missouri will be glad to hear: that simply taking good care of your child will help him or her to do better in school.

    According to the study, there’s more than one way a child can get an edge in school. We all know that family income and other financial resources can afford a child unique experiences and support, but the researchers in this study argued that money isn’t the only variable for student success. The way a parent cares for his or her child plays a huge role in academic learning.

    “The evidence suggests that caring for children [...] has a substantial correlation with the children’s measured skills in reading and math,” the paper said, “and this relationship is separable from the advantages of family resources.”

    In other words, even after adjusting for financial resources, parents who cared for their children from pregnancy through elementary school helped their kids do better in math and reading.

    Care is a hard thing to measure, of course, so researchers selected a variety of parental behaviors that they felt were a reflection of the way parents care for their children. The intent was to account for the way parents use the resources they do have (time, energy, and attention — but also money) to support their kids.

    The thing we found really uplifting about this study is that it provides evidence that there are things that every single parent in Missouri — no matter how big or small your income — can do to help give your child a stronger foundation for reading and math.

    From not smoking while pregnant to reading to your child often and from a young age; from showing an interest in your child’s schoolwork and activities to encouraging him or her to stay in school, you can do small things that make a big difference for your child.

    Many of the ways you can help your child, according to the study, don’t cost anything. “Caring, as measured here,” said the study, “does not ‘cost money’.”

    Contact your child’s teacher to ask about how he or she is doing in the classroom. Read your child a book, or let them read one to you. Take your child on a little outing to a local park, museum, or library this weekend, and make sure that they’re getting the rest, nutrition, and safe home life they need to succeed in school.

    Want to learn more about how you can help your child succeed in school? Bookmark Missouri Parent News, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, where we post policy updates, parenting tips, and other education news that’s relevant to you, the Missouri public school parent.

  • How Our Nation’s No Child Left Behind Policy Came to Be: A History



    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is making national headlines again as federal lawmakers debate changes to NCLB proposed by the chairman of the Senate education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

    If you’re the parent of a public school student right now, you might not have had a school-aged child when NCLB was enacted as a federal law thirteen years ago. If that’s the case, we hope that this NCLB timeline will help you to feel better informed as Sen. Alexander and others in Washington debate NCLB:

    * January 23, 2001: Just days after taking office, President George W. Busch presented one of his first Congressional initiatives, NCLB.

    * January 8, 2002: Congress enacted NCLB as “an act to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” The bill was passed by bipartisan majorities. (Source)

    * 2004: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) initiated meetings between “more than 135 national civil rights, education, disability advocacy, civic, labor and religious groups” to create a proposal for fundamental changes to NCLB. (Source)

    * October 2004: FairTest released its NCLB proposal, calling for changes to federal education law. The goal? To replace NCLB’s emphasis on standardized test scores with rewards for “systematic changes that improve student improvement.” (Source)

    Read More about FairTest’s Proposal: The Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind.

    * February 2007: The Aspen Commission on NCLB, an independent, bipartisan effort to improve NCLB, released its final recommendations—a set of “specific and actionable policy recommendations,” some of which called for stricter federal enforcement of state educational standards and accountability. (Source)

    * 2007: A working group of the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB—the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA)—countered the Aspen Commission with its recommendation “to shift NCLB from applying sanctions for failing to raise test scores to supporting state and communities and hold them accountable as they make systematic changes that improve student learning.” (Source)

    * 2009: Race to the Top (RTTT)—a $4.35 billion reform initiative from the Department of Education was launched by the U.S. Department of Education to spur innovation in education. RTTT was funded by ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. RTTT rewarded states for meeting performance-based educator standards and following other educational policies. (Source)

    * March 2010: President Barack Obama “released a blueprint for reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” (ESEA) which preceded NCLB. The President urged a shift from the “punishment” mentality that concerned NCLB opponents to a system that focused on student improvement. The President also revised ESEA to include assessments for modern skills like technology use and effective communications. The President proposed a $2 billion increase in the federal budget to help schools meet the bill’s mandates. (Source)

    * 2012: The President waived or conditionally waived NCLB requirements to Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin. These states “have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness.” (Source)*

    * 2012: A Gallup poll revealed general public dissatisfaction with NCLB. Only 16% thought that NCLB improved education, and “67% felt that it had made no difference or made things worse.” (Source)

    * January 2015: Senate education committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) proposed major changes to NCLB that would shift the onus of educational policy-making back to individual states.

    NCLB will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Come back often to the Missouri Parent Blog for NCLB updates. Bookmark the blog, and connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.

    *In order to earn waivers, states were required to “produce their own plans for enhancing teacher competence and academic standards as well as implementing ways to track progress.”

  • 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.

  • Early Childhood Education Investment: An Investment in Our Kids & Our Economy


    What would you say if we told you that a single type of state investment could do these three big things?

    1. Increase high school graduation rates.
    2. Improve an adult’s job prospects.
    3. Help a great percentage of Missourians become successful contributors to our economy.

    We're here to tell you that early childhood education investments help with all of those things and more.

    Ready Nation is one of the many independent organizations in the U.S. that takes a powerful stand in regards to the return on investment that early childhood education brings to communities, business, and students. It says that quality early learning programs “have been shown to immediately generate about $2 for every $1 invested, through the sale of local goods and services, providing an immediate benefit to communities and making early learning an important economic sector.” (Source)

    If we offered you a retirement plan that had a 2-to-1 return, you would jump on the opportunity. But when policymakers have the opportunity to invest in early childhood education in Missouri, there’s much contention.

    Recently, the Springfield Daily Leader published a news story about a head start program whose state funding suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared. Communities in Springfield, Branson, Bolivar, Marshfield, and Ozark could all be affected.

    Across the state in Kirksville, Missouri, another early childhood program saw November funding cuts. The Northeast Missouri Community Action Agency lost 74 slots for Early Head Start Program students, leaving it funding for just 14 slots. 74 families will be affected. 54 will be slots previously filled by students, and 20 will be prenatal slots—all in a town of less than 18,000 people. (Source)

    Study after study shows that early childhood education is a good investment—not just in kids, but a good investment in economies. Here are just a few examples:

    · Missouri’s own Now for Later campaign says that, “Longitudinal studies indicate a societal return on investment in early childhood programs of approximately $10 per $1 invested.” (Source)

    · A cost-benefit analysis by the Journal of Public Economics “suggests that a dollar invested in an early childhood nutrition program in a developing country could potentially return at least three dollars worth of gains in academic achievement, and perhaps much more.” (Source)

    · Ready Nation says that at-risk students (like those who are often served by the Head Start program like the one mentioned in Kirksville) who participate in quality early childhood learning programs their median earnings” by as much as 36%.” (Source)

    · Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. James Heckman is a powerful advocate for investing in early childhood education. He believes “the most cost-effective route to strengthening the workforce is to invest in early education.” (Source)

    Missouri must stand up for and invest in early childhood education. Cutting the same programs that a wide body of research has shown has an impressive return on investment while simultaneously funding expensive and inefficient programs like Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) is one more example of bad #MissouriMath.

    A new legislative session will open in Missouri in January, and Missouri Parent believes that it is worth advocating for early childhood education. If you agree, please contact your local lawmakers to let them know that early childhood learning programs are a strong investment in Missouri’s future.

    To stay informed on the January session in the Legislature, and to remain up-to-date on policy and funding issues affecting Missouri public school, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Missouri Updates to Top 10 By 20


    This October, the Missouri State Board of Education approved Fiscal Year 2015 updates to Top 10 By 20. Top 10 by 20 is Missouri’s statewide improvement effort that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states in the nation by 2020.

    According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the updated plan, “focuses on leadership, collaborative culture and climate, teaching/learning practices, assessments to inform teaching and learning, effective use of data, and parental/community engagement.” (source)

    Learn More: View the entire Top 10 by 20 Plan for Fiscal Year 2014-15 here.

    Top 10 By 20 launched in 2009, and according to DESE, it has made a difference in school quality and student performance:

    “We have gotten better,” DESE spokesperson Sarah Potter told KOMU News in Columbia, Missouri. “Proficiency rates have improved since we first started tracking and graduation rates have improved. The problem is that every other state is improving right along with us. Graduation rates are improving all over the country.” (source)

    Missouri’s graduation rates have improved. Last year, Missouri had the 8th highest graduation rate in the United States, an especially impressive feat considering that the nation’s graduation rates are they highest they’ve been in more than 30 years.

    Missouri doesn’t just want students to graduate high school, however. We want our students to graduate ready to succeed after high school. That’s why Top 10 by 20 outlines four key areas of improvement for K-12 education: (source)

    1. All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready.  TWEET THIS

    2. All Missouri children will enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school.

    3. Missouri will prepare, develop and support effective educators.

    4. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will improve departmental efficiency and operational effectiveness.

    Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro says that DESE will emphasize capacity building in Fiscal Year 2015 to help the state achieve its Top 10 by 20 goals:

    “Missouri continues its focus on ensuring that all students have access to high-quality education,” said Nicastro. “To reach the Top 10 by 20, the Department will focus on building statewide capacity to implement supports and, when necessary, interventions designed to improve student achievement.” (source)

    Student achievement is t the heart of Top 10 by 20. Come back to the Missouri Parent Blog to learn more about accountability efforts like Top 10 By 20, and to stay up to date on education funding and legislative issues affecting Missouri’s public schools.

    This post is Part 1 of a 5 Part series on the Missouri 10 by 20. Come back to learn more about each of the initiatives four goals, and how the state measures its success against each goal.


  • Smart Students Come From Missouri

    According to this map created by FindTheBest which compiles SAT, ACT, AP, and NAEP test scores and compares them across the states, Missouri public schools rank high in achievements by high school students.

    The Missouri score of 4.48 on a 1-5 scale puts us above half of our border states and in the top third of all states. 

    In this study, students in New Hampshire set the high mark at 5.0 and Mississippi students came in at 2.97.

  • Missouri High School Students Awarded for Citizenship

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently recognized 15 high school seniors for their exceptional citizenship. The 2014 Outstanding Achievement in Citizenship awardees are:

    • John Bantle, Rockwood Summit High School
    • Theresa Abby Bergman, Oakville High School
    • Seth Boeke, Stockton High School
    • Alexander Jackson Bollinger, Fort Zumwalt South High School
    • Talor Crawford, Webster Groves High School
    • Jessica Dennis, Lee’s Summit North High School
    • Sophia Etling, Parkway South High School
    • Nora Faris, Concordia High School
    • Charles Darren Green, Malden High School
    • John Korenak, Lindbergh High School
    • Shelby Linneman, Brentwood High School
    • Kaitlee Metcalf, Hume High School
    • Nathan Rickard, Francis Howell High School
    • Danica Ridgeway, Jefferson City High School
    • Lauren Wilbert, Carl Junction High School

    State Board of Education President Peter F. Herschend (left), State Board of Education member Dr. O. Victor Lenz, Jr. (right), and Missouri Bar President Jack Brady (center left) with all of the 2014 Missouri Citizenship Awardees following the awards ceremony on April 14, 2014, in Jefferson City. — at The Missouri Bar.

    This year’s recipients received their awards at an April 14th luncheon in Jefferson City. Missouri Bar President John Brady and State Board of Education President Peter Herschend presented seniors with their awards.

    The Outstanding Achievement in Citizenship award, which is organized by DESE with assistance and financial support from The Missouri Bar, awards students for exemplary community service and academic and extracurricular achievements in civics and government. Nominations are reviewed by a panel of educators and by members of the Missouri Bar’s Advisory Committee on Citizenship Education.

  • 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.

    Image via Getty.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • How Not to Contribute to America’s Declining Book Readership

    According to the Pew Research Center, the number of non-book-readers in the United States has increased threefold since 1978.

    In 1978, 92% of Americans read at least one book, 42% of the population read 11 or more books, and 13% of the population read more than 50 books.

    By contrast, in 2013, nearly one quarter of the U.S. population didn’t read a single book.

    The decline in book readership in America isn’t good, but it may be inspiring to know that as a Missouri parent, reading with your kids can — in theory, at least — make a positive difference.

    According to The Atlantic:

    …the number of books an American reads tends to be closely associated with his or her level of education. Even those with just a little bit of college read far more, on average, than men and women who only finished high school. That may be because people who grow up reading are far more likely to enroll in higher education. But it seems at least somewhat likely that reading books in class conditions people to read books later in life.

    The logic is pretty straightforward:

    Kids who grow up reading are more like to enroll in higher education, and the more educated the individual, the more likely they are to read more books. The average American read 5 books in 2013, the high-school educated American read 9, the American who had some college under his or her belt read 13, and the college graduate read 16.

    What will you do in 2014 to inspire reading in your home? Here are just a few ideas:
    · Lead by example: Read books of your own in front of your kids at home.
    · Read together: Read with your young children. ( has some great reading resources available online for parents of kids ages 3-5, 6-7, 8-10, and 11-13.)
    · Pick books for your child that fit his or her interests.
    · Take your son or daughter to the library or a book store, and let him or her explore (and, hopefully, choose a new book or two to take home).
    · Read a bedtime story to your child at night.

  • Academic Achievement & School Accreditation in Missouri

    Missouri aims to reach a Top 10 ranking in the US in public education by the year 2020. In order to measure progress toward that goal, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education calculates an Annual Performance Report score (APR) for every school and every district in the state.

    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the framework for the State’s APRs, and the resulting APR scores 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 (K-12), Attendance Rate, and Graduation Rate.

    Each of these five Performance Standards earns a Status Score, a Progress Score, and a Growth Score. Those scores are included in each school’s APR scoring matrix. We’ll talk more about Status, Progress, and Growth Scores in a future post.

    Today, we’ll focus on the first of the five Performance Standards: Academic Achievement.

    As a parent, you probably already know that your child takes the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests in school. You may not have realized that his or her MAP scores are taken into consideration when determining the accreditation status of his or her school district.

    In fact, MAP scores are one of the primary measurements for a district’s Academic Achievement. These scores include grade-level assessments (GLA), end-of-course (EOC), and MAP-alternate (MAP-A assessments).

    In order for districts to achieve or maintain accreditation, their students must meet or exceed state standards or show demonstrated improvement over time on MAP, GLA, EOC, or MAP-A assessments.

    The state requires that 95% (or more) of the students within each school or district take MAP assessments. In order to account for the needs of students who fall into higher risk or special needs categories, MSIP5 also monitors Subgroup Achievement. We’ll explore Subgroup Achievement more in a future post.

    Was this post helpful? You might also enjoy:
    What is the Missouri School Improvement Program?
    5 Ways Your Student’s School is Evaluated for Accreditation
    15 Missouri School Districts Earn 100% of Annual Performance Reviews

  • 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.

  • Common Core State Standards Broaden Authentic Learning

    Common Core State Standards are designed to “be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” (source)

    But what, exactly, does that mean? And fundamentally, how is that different than what traditional public education aimed to do?

    Today we’ll talk about what “authentic learning” is, why it helps prepare students for life after high school, and what the Common Core State Standards are doing to broaden authentic learning in our schools.

    What Is Authentic Learning?
    Authentic learning encourages students to explore problems across multiple disciplines. With an emphasis on higher order thinking skills, authentic learning moves beyond the memorization of facts, pushing students to gain a deeper understanding of ideas and information. Authentic learning allows students discover information and answers rather than simply being told what the answers are.

    Preparing Students For Life After High School
    Unlike traditional rote learning, authentic learning teaches students the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are valued by universities and employers.

    The Microsoft Partners in Learning blog says that authentic learning “…is based in ‘real’ problems, learning by ‘doing’, and learning that is social. These are all elements of on–the-job learning that are hallmarks of modern careers…” (source)

    What Is Common Core Doing to Broaden Authentic Learning?
    Expectations are high in the Common Core. Students are expected to demonstrate independence, to build strong knowledge in specific content areas, and to be able to explain or provide evidence for how they came to conclusions or solutions.

    They are expected to adapt their communications to their audiences, tasks, purposes and disciplines, and they’re also expected to understand and appreciate other perspectives and cultures.

    And yet, the standards are not a curriculum. While the CCSS articulate what students should be able to do at each stage in their academic development, they don’t tell teachers how to teach. This flexibility allows teachers to incorporate their own strategies into content-area curriculums. When teachers have that freedom, authentic learning is a natural outcome.

    As a literature teacher at the Riverside Virtual School in Riverside, California said, “If you are designing real and engaging learning experiences for your students, then you are probably already teaching the Common Core Standards.” (source)

    Missouri is one of 46 states and the District of Columbia to adopt the Common Core State Standards. You can learn more about the Common Core Standards by reading these posts on the Missouri Parent Blog:

    How Does Common Core Affect Your Kids? There’s an App for That
    Common Core Standards: Not a Federal Initiative
    Teaching is the Core of Common Core

  • 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.

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

    Missouri’s 8th grade students ranked in the nation’s top 20 on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exams in 2005 and again in 2012.

    The NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas, and Missouri schools are periodically selected to participate in NAEP assessments. NAEP administers uniform assessments nationwide in a number of content areas — including science — in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades.

    Science scores and rankings on the NAEP exams are based on the percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on each assessment. In 2005 (the base year for comparative analysis), Missouri’s 8th graders were 13th in the nation with a 36% proficiency rating. In 2012, Missouri’s 8th grade science students achieve the same percentage proficiency rating (36% of students scored at or above proficient), but fell to 18th nationally in rank.

    Missouri’s students aren’t just excelling in science on NAEP assessments. Students have increased their science scores on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests from 2008 to 2012, as well. From 2008 to 2012, 5th grade students jumped from 44.7% to a 51.6% scoring at or above proficient. 8th grade science students increased from 43.3% scoring at or above proficient to 49.9% scoring at or above proficient.

    Proficiency in science is apparent on ACT scores in Missouri, as well. For the last seven years, Missouri has ranked in the top 24 states nationally on the science portion of the ACT.

    Keep Science Fun for Your Kids
    If you enjoy seeing Missouri’s students excel in the sciences, you can help continue the positive trend by keeping science fun for your kids at home.

    Stay tuned to this website to see MO Parent’s tips for Keeping Science Fun.

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