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Everything listed under: Education

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled

    The Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD) is one of Missouri’s three state operated school districts, serving children and youth from 5 to 21 years old who have severe disabilities.

    MSSD’s mission is to “ensure students learn authentic skills in a safe environment to be productive and integrated into their home, community, leisure and work.” (Source)

    To that end, MSSD’s curriculum aligns with Missouri’s state standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health/physical education, and fine arts. And teachers use an integrated, trans disciplinary approach in the classroom.

    MSSD teachers are fully certified, and usually have at least two aides in their classrooms. In most cases, the adult-to-student ratio is one-to-two. Teachers are also supported by specially trained occupational, physical, and speech therapists and registered nurses who either work for the school full time or travel between schools, depending on the school’s needs.

    A Student is referred to MSSD when his or her local school district isn’t able to support his or her specific educational needs. The student’s disabilities must fall into a range from severe to profound, as defined by Missouri’s IDEA classification system.

    Unlike resident students at the Missouri School for the Blind, most of MSSD’s students live at home. Because there are 75 MSSD schools across the state, most students can be bussed to and from school each day.

    Each of MSSD’s 75 schools falls into one of three regional Areas in Sedalia, St. Louis, and Springfield. At the Area level, those schools have the support of an Area director and an Area administrative office. MSSD’s main administrative office is located in Jefferson City.

    Like Missouri’s other state schools, MSSD receives federal and state funding. But even though “MSSD is supported by funds appropriated annually by the Missouri Legislature,” local school districts also provide support. The law requires them to contribute towards the cost of education for each child from their district attending an MSSD school. (Source)

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

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

  • 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.

  • If You Don't Know Senator Alexander You Need to Read This Post


    The national education stage has many prominent players. Among them is Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Senate education committee chairman. Today we’re here to make sure that if you have a child in a public school in Missouri, you have a clear idea of what’s happening in Washington—and why the name Sen. Lamar Alexander is an important one to know in 2015.

    Sen. Alexander is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). He served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Busch from March 1991 to January 1993, and he has served in the U.S. Senate since 2003. Sen. Alexander recently presented a proposal to overhaul and reauthorize No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (Source, Source)

    NCLB is a contentious federal education initiative passed in early 2002 by bipartisan majorities and signed into law by former President George W. Bush. NCLB is not a federally mandated program (states are not legally required to follow NCLB). Federal education funding is tied to a state’s adoption of NCLB, though, so states hoping to receive federal funds must opt-in to NCLB.

    Many believe that NCLB has created systematic federal over-reach. Sen. Alexander is one of them, and his NCLB proposal would shift some of the responsibility of educational policy, accountability, and funding back to individual states.

    As commentator Gary Wisenbaker told Valdosta Today — Sen. Alexander’s NCLB proposal “is grounded” in the concept that states should “handle their own problems in education and schooling.” (Source)

    This EdWeek blog post goes into more detail on Sen. Alexander’s proposed changes to NCLB, but here’s Missouri Parent’s bullet-point list of changes:

    • Standardized testing could change.
    • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures, school choice, and other federal accountability standards will be replaced with accountability standards developed by each state.
    • The federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) model will go away, and so will many other programs.
    • States would have more flexibility in how they use Title I funds.
    • States would not have to develop teacher evaluation models based on student outcomes.
    • Federal funding for quality teachers could be used in new, more flexible ways.
    • Current “high qualified teacher” provisions would go away.
    • The existed Teacher Inventive Fund would be written into law.
    • States would no longer be required to generate minimum state funding in order to receive federal education money.
    • The U.S. Secretary of Education’s reach and authority over states would be limited.

    Learn More: Read EdWeeks’ full blog post on these changes here.

    These changes are big news for NCLB, which means that they’re big changes for public school students in Missouri. If you still aren’t sure why it’s important to know who Sen. Alexander is, though he said it well himself:

    “The work of no Senatecommitteeaffects the daily lives of more Americans more than this one—whether we are fixing No Child Left Behind, or reducing federal paperwork to make it easier for students to attend college, or making it simpler formedical treatments and cures to make their waythrough the Food and Drug Administrationtopatientswho need the help.” (Source)

    If Sen. Alexander succeeds, states and local school districts will regain control, and the federal government will be able to exercise fewer mandates over them. “Generally speaking,” said Sen. Alexander during a press conference call, “I want these discussions about testing standards, and accountability systems to move back to states and communities, where I think they belong.” (Source)

    Sen. Alexander and his NCLB proposal will continue to lead education news on the national stage over the coming weeks. Bookmark the Missouri Parent News page and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on legislation and funding issues affecting Missouri schools.

  • Education a Prominent Theme During Missouri State of State Address

    Education was a prominent theme in Governor Nixon’s State of the State Address on January 21st. “Education is the great equalizer,” said the Governor in his speech. “Because when every child has a quality education, every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

    The Governor listed increased funding, heightened academic expectations, and stricter accountability measures as evidence of the state’s legislative progress for education. He made indirect reference to #MoNoOn3; the statewide effort to defeat Missouri Amendment 3, which would have used standardized test scores to evaluate public school teachers.

    Academically, he cited improved math and reading scores and progress in troubled school districts as ways that Missouri’s schools are “rising to the challenge”. He also highlighted several specific communities across the state that have made academic progress or have supported public educators.

    Governor Nixon was honest, however, that Missouri’s public education system isn’t where it needs to be. In order to give kids, “the best”, Governor Nixon proposed the following funding and legislative changes in 2015:

    · An $11 million increase to existing preschool budgets
    · A proposed record level of funding for K-12 education
    · An additional $150 million for public schools
    · A “clean fix” to the debate over Missouri’s school transfer law
    · Start-up grants to extend Project Lead the Way (a STEM education program) to 350 more Missouri elementary schools
    · An additional $25 million for Missouri higher education
    · Upgrading higher education facilities, especially those in STEM programs

    You can read the full text of Governor Nixon’s January 21st State of the State Address here.

    As the 98th General Assembly proceeds, education legislation and funding will be ongoing subjects of discussion and debate. Part of our mission at Missouri Parent is to provide you with accurate and timely information on education funding and legislative issues that impact public education, so we’ll continue to share relevant policy updates throughout this legislative session.

    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 as we continue to post regular updates from the 98th General Assembly.

  • MOParent Presents: The Missouri Education Advocates Series


    Missouri Parent is always ready to continue to provide timely information on education funding and legislative issues impacting public education in Missouri. We are not alone in this mission to protect our public schools.

    While the new legislative session is kicking off this month in Jefferson City, we’ll run a new series called “Missouri Education Advocates”. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of which professional education organizations work on public education legislation and advocacy in Missouri.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Each feature will be short and sweet, highlighting basic information about some of Missouri’s biggest organizations who advocate for public education in the state.

    We will update the list of education organizations as we publish individual posts about them. This ongoing list is below:

    If you would like to see any groups featured or have any questions about how education groups advocate for our schools and students, feel free to contact us at any time.

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

  • Missouri Legislature Begins Filing Education Bills

    The filing period for the 98th Missouri General Assembly opened on December 1, 2014 and concluded on January 6, 2015. Several veteran and new legislators have filed education-related bills which could impact all Missourians. While filing a bill does not guarantee any of these ideas will become law in Missouri, we will continue to monitor and report on these bills as they move through the legislative process. 

    The embedded tweets below contain links to the actual bill information on the web pages of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate. For more information on the bills, feel free to contact Missouri Parent or the sponsor of the legislation.

    *Updated with more pre-filed education-related bills, 1.6.2015

  • 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

  • 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 

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  • 3 Fresh New Tools that Extend Learning Beyond the Classroom

    Educational technology changes perpetually, and is also changes quickly. To help keep you up to speed, we’ve highlighted three fresh and innovative new tools that extend learning beyond the classroom.

    Glogster EDU
    Glogster EDU is a complete educational solution for digital and mobile teaching and learning. The company’s logo reads, “Poster Yourself”, because the website empowers educators and students to create GLOGS — online multimedia posters — with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments, and more.

    Glogster EDU features:
    · An easy drag & drop interface
    · Flexibility for use by students, teachers, and classrooms
    · Sharability using embed codes, wikispaces, edmodo, social networks and social bookmarking
    · Creative use for book reports, research projects, classroom projects, homework, distance learning, presentations, digital posters, and more

    Example Glog:


    Kidblog is a safe and secure blogging tool that enables students to easily create — not just consume — digital content. The site offers clutter-free, ad-free design and lets students create blog posts from home or school using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

    Security is a highlight of Kidblog: Teachers maintain control over student accounts, preventing kids from needing to memorize usernames or provide personal information to create their blogs. The website has COPPA-compliant Terms of Service, and kids’ blogs are kept private; viewable only by their teachers and classmates.

    Teachers have full administrative control on Kidblog, using Google Apps for Education for site sign-in. They are provided with the ability to assign password-protected parent and guest account information at their discretion. Finally, Kidblog offers customizable privacy settings that allow teachers to follow the technology policies of their own individual schools or districts.

    ExamTime has one overarching goal: to change the way that students learn. The company provides free study tools and encourages good study habits like goal setting, personal learning styles, brainstorming, and collaborative learning — all online.

    ExamTime allows students and teachers to build digital flashcards, quizzes, and notes, and to set up goals in preparation for assignments and tests that are still on the horizon. Digital study aides include mindmaps, flashcards, notes, quizzes and more.

    Students can access ExamTime on any device (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), and once students have created study tools, those tools can be easily shared with friends.

    How have you or your family embraced 21st Century learning skills with your students or children? Do you have a favorite tool for digital literacy? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page — we’d love to hear from you!

  • 5 Pieces of Missouri Educational Jargon Explained, Part II

    Yesterday on the MOParent Blog, we explained Missouri’s Show-Me Standards and Common Core Standards in easy-to-understand terms. Today, we’ll decode the Missouri Learning Standards, Model Curriculum, and the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP5).

    Missouri Learning Standards
    The Missouri Learning Standards define what students should know and what they should be able to do in order to succeed in college, postsecondary training, and career. They are inclusive of the Common Core State Standards for English and math, and they’ll eventually include standards for other subject areas, as well.

    Missouri Learning Standards are both grade-level and subject-area specific, and they’re aligned with the Show-Me Standards, which we explained in yesterday’s post.

    Model Curriculum
    The Missouri Model Curriculum is the result of a curriculum project lead by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The units within the Model Curriculum address state and national standards in all content areas, offering a model that districts can use (or not) and modify according to their needs.

    Model Curriculum units were developed in 2012 by Missouri educators, and each one aligns with the Missouri Learning Standards and to grade- and course-level expectations.

    Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP5)
    The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is Missouri’s school accountability system. It’s used for reviewing and accrediting public school districts in Missouri.

    Every school district and every public school in the state receives an Annual Performance Report (APR), and each district is granted one of four levels of accreditation: Unaccredited, Provisional, Accredited, and Accredited with Distinction. This blog post from Missouri Parent explains the Missouri School Improvement Program in more detail.

    For more help navigating educational policy in the state of Missouri, and for tips supplementing your child’s public school education at home, subscribe at the top of this page for Missouri Parent email updates. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter!

  • 5 Pieces of Missouri Educational Jargon Explained, Part I

    2013 has brought with it a flurry of activity around educational reform. Because so many different educational initiatives have been in the news recently, we thought it might be helpful to quickly decode five of the most common pieces of educational jargon in the state of Missouri.

    In this two-part post, we’ll give easy-to-understand explanations of Show-Me Standards, Common Core Standards, Missouri Learning Standards, Model Curriculum, and the Missouri School Improvement Program.

    Show-Me Standards
    The Show-Me Standards were established in 1993 by the Outstanding Schools Act, and were approved by the Missouri State Board of Education in 1996. They are still in effect today.

    The Show-Me Standards emphasize factual knowledge and functional skills in traditional subjects including reading, writing, mathematics, world and American history, forms of government, geography, science, health/physical education, and the fine arts.

    Common Core State Standards
    Common Core State Standards are a national movement, but aren’t lead by the federal government. A group of independent educational leaders developed the standards as a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn at each grade level so that parents and teachers know what they need to do to help students.

    Each state chooses whether to adopt Common Core State Standards (so far, Missouri is among 45 states that have adopted the Common Core). Common Core is designed to ensure that all students, no matter what school they attend or what state they go to school in, are ready for college and career.

    MOParent has written two previous blog posts that may help explain Common Core: How Does Common Core Affect Your Kids? There’s an App for That and Common Core Standards: Not a Federal Initiative.

    Come back tomorrow for easy-to-understand explanations of the Missouri Learning Standards, Model Curriculum, and the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5).

    For more helpful explanations and tips about public education in Missouri, subscribe to Missouri Parent email updates, like Missouri Parent on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

  • What is Your Son or Daughter’s Learning Style?

    Children learn in different ways, and you can help your child succeed in school this year by exploring how he or she learns best.

    When you know what that learning style is, you’ll be able to better-help your child to develop effective study habits that will go with him or her from K-12 and beyond.

    Social Vs. Independent Learners
    Some children learn best when they have a peer, a teacher, a tutor, or a parent working alongside them, while other children learn best when they study quietly or privately.

    If your child is a social learner, he or she may enjoy talking with you about what he or she is learning. Your son or daughter might also enjoy sharing ideas (“light bulb moments”) with you. Independent learners, by contrast, may enjoy spending time alone, and may not need outside help to stay focused on the task at hand.

    If your son or daughter is a social learner, study groups, tutors, and one-on-one time with you will make studying more efficient and enjoyable for him or her. On the other hand, if your child is an independent learner, he or she might need a quieter, more private study environment.

    Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, and Logical Learners
    Have you noticed that your child learns better with images than with spoken words, or that your child learns better when information is read aloud to him or her than when he or she reads the same passage silently?

    It’s perfectly normal for your child to learn better in some ways than in others, and there’s no “right” or “wrong learning style. We’ll spend the next few days helping you understand five learning styles and how to leverage them to help your child in school.

    If you want to receive more tips on helping your child succeed in school this year, subscribe to MOParent email updates! We’ll send helpful tips, policy updates, and more directly to your inbox.

  • Knowing Your Child’s Learning Style Can Make Your Child Successful in School

    It’s a new school year, and you’re dedicated to making sure your child does well. No matter what grade your child is in this year, understanding how he or she learns is critical to helping him or her succeed academically.

    We have talked about social and independent learners before and today we’ll explore the idea that some children learn better visually while others learn better aurally; that some might study best verbally, while others might have the most success when they can touch or feel the things they’re learning.

    With a little bit of help from MOParent, you’ll be able to identify which learning style best suits your child.

    Visual Learners
    Does your child learn well when images are involved? Is he or she great at putting puzzles together, folding notes to friends in complex ways, or seeing a 2D diagram and easily understanding what the item would look like in 3D? Then he or she might be a visual learner.

    Aural (or Auditory) Learners
    Does your child learn musical instruments easily? Does he or she use melodies or rhythms to memorize facts before tests? Does your child seem to remember information better when it’s read aloud to him or her? Your child might be an aural – or auditory – learner.

    Verbal Learners
    Does your son or daughter learn well using mnemonics? Does he or she enjoy reading and writing new information? Does reading text aloud (especially dramatically) help your child remember information? You might have a verbal learner in your family.

    Physical (or Kinesthetic) Learners
    Does your child love to participate in physical activities like sports, gardening, building model airplanes, or doing hands-on science or craft projects? Does he or she remember things that he or she has done more easily than the things that he or she has read or heard? Your son or daughter might be a physical – or kinesthetic - learner.

    Logical (or Analytical) Learners
    Does your child look at seemingly random information and see patterns or trends? Does he or she tend to think linearly through problems? Does he or she enjoy strategy games? Does he or she notice it when you say something that isn’t logical? Your child may be a logical – or analytical - learner.

    I Think I Know My Child’s Learning Style, Now What Do I Do?
    Now that you have a better idea what your child’s learning style is, you’re probably wondering what those learning styles mean for your child.

    How can you best help your child prepare for tests? How can you help him or her develop good study habits that will carry over into the high school and college years?

    If you’re looking for more helpful information on studying with your child, helping him or her in school, and understanding what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools, subscribe to MOParent email updates today!

  • Tips and Tricks to Help Kids of Every Learning Style Part 2

    Over the last several days, we’ve explored learning styles, and how you can help your child succeed in school leveraging his or her unique learning style. Today, we’ll wrap up this series with tips and tricks for verbal, physical, and logical learners.

    Verbal Learners
    · Verbal learners may find note-taking to be distracting. Don’t assume that if your verbal learner takes few (or no) notes in class, that he or she isn’t paying attention.
    · Reading and writing will help your child to retain information.
    · Encourage your child to read information and then repeat what he or she learned back to you verbally.
    · Word games and reading supplementary materials are both great tools for the verbal learner.

    Physical (or Kinesthetic) Learners
    · Whenever possible, make learning hands-on for your physical learner.
    · Help your child visualize the way it may have felt to be in a particular situation (in a battlefield during the Civil War, for instance) when studying history or reading stories.
    · Flashcards are helpful for physical learners because they can be touched and felt.
    · Understand that your physical learner may learn better while standing or even pacing, rather than while sitting still at a desk or table. He or she may also need more frequent short breaks than children who aren’t physical learners.

    Logical (or Analytical) Learners
    · Create a structured learning environment for your logical learner: Reduce distractions by studying in the same place and at the same time each evening, and keep supplies handy and organized.
    · Focus on one task at a time. Changing between subjects or stopping mid-stream for an unrelated task (to complete a chore or eat dinner with your family) may be frustrating or distracting for logical learners.
    · Help your child understand why things happen or why information is meaningful. Don’t expect him or her to learn by rote.

    If you like receiving short, helpful pieces like this one, subscribe today for MOParent email updates!

  • 100 Years of Standardized Tests

    In the midst of complex debates over public education, standardized testing, and educational reform, this exam issued to Kentucky 8th graders 100 years ago seems comparatively straightforward. In truth, the test is surprisingly difficult.

    Click the image for the full exam, answers, and a history of the test.

    Can you name, for example the capitals of the states bordering the Ohio River? Do you know what the functions (or uses) of the spinal column are? Can you name five county officers and the principal duties of each? Remember that 100 years ago, each of these was an essay question — not a single question was designed as multiple choice.

    The 8th grade exam covers spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology, civil government, and history. Each section includes ten questions or less, except for spelling, in which students were asked to spell 40 words.

    Tests Then & Now
    In 1912, students answered less than 60 essay questions and spelled 40 words as part of a single exam at the end of 8th grade. Students were required to travel to a regional testing site to participate in the exam.

    Missouri’s 8th graders complete MAP tests in three different subject areas; communication arts, math, and science. These tests are administered in the classroom, eliminating travel requirements. Today’s tests are longer than Kentucky’s 1912 test was, and they include several types of questions, while Kentucky’s 100-year-old test was made up entirely essay questions.

    Eighth graders in Missouri are given a little over two hours to complete three sections of communication arts testing; two hours and twenty minutes to complete three sections of math testing; and three hours to complete three sections of science exams. Students encounter multiple choice questions, constructed response questions, and “performance events” – extended construction response questions.

    What Do You Think?
    What do you think about tests 100 years ago and tests now? Could you have passed Kentucky’s 8th grade exam? Do you think you could pass your child’s 8th grade MAP tests? Leave a comment on the MOParent Facebook Page, and if you enjoy posts like this one, be sure to sign up for MOParent email updates!

  • Tips and Tricks to Help Kids of Every Learning Style Part 1

    Understanding your child’s learning style — and helping him or her to develop style-appropriate study skills — is key to success this school year and beyond.

    Yesterday, we talked about five different learning styles. Today, we’ll explore tips and tricks for students who learn visually and aurally. We’ll share similar tips and tricks for the remaining learning styles tomorrow.

    If these tips are helpful, sign up for MOParent email updates. We’ll send information about your child’s education directly to your inbox!

    Visual Learners
    · Use colored papers, markers, pencils, or pens to create flashcards or other study materials. Visual learners associate color, shape, and layout with information, making it easier for them to recall later.
    · Maps and diagrams help visual learners understand and remember information.
    · Visual learners will remember information better if they write it themselves (for example, on their own flashcards) than if a teacher or parent writes the information down for them.
    · Sometimes visual learners may struggle to remember verbal information. Teach your child that it’s okay to ask teachers or others to repeat verbal information.

    Aural Learners
    · When aural learners need to memorize information, it can be helpful to put that information into a rhythm, or even to sing the information to the melody of a well-known song.
    · Use rhymes or rhyming games to help your child learn and recall new information.
    · Read your child’s homework aloud to them. Your aural learner will remember more or of what he or she hears than what he or she reads.
    · Encourage your aural learner to verbalize things out loud as he or she studies at home. While this may be a distraction to other students in a classroom setting, that’s not the case when studying at home.

    Come back to the MOParent Blog tomorrow for tips and tricks designed especially for parents of verbal, physical, and logical learners.

  • 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.

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