In 11 states across the country, K-12 Course Access programs are offering winning solutions for many students and financially challenged public schools. This year, Missouri’s legislators are considering two Course Access bills. Considering Governor Greiten’s expressed support of Course Access legislation, there is cautious optimism that we will have Course Access in Missouri within a year or less.
Even more promising is St. Louis Post-Dispatch Celeste Bott’s recent report that there is broad support across party lines and with educators, teachers unions, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and education reformers. Clearly, this is one education reform policy that has a real chance of becoming law.
In pointing to Missouri, the Show-Me Institute’s education policy analyst Mike McShane reveals some of Missouri’s most troubling education statistics, “Since 2010, Missouri has seen a 3.1 percent decrease in college enrollment. However, about one-third of Missouri students are unprepared for college when they get there…The results on the ACT for Missouri’s class of 2015 also revealed a lack of college preparation. While 71 percent of Missouri students were found to be ready for college-level English, only 44 percent were ready for college level math, 51 percent were ready for college-level reading, and 42 percent were ready for college-level science. In total, only 30 percent of the class of 2015 scored college-ready in all four tested subjects.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Leaders and Lagards report shows that 9.5 percent of Missouri’s 2014 graduating class passed an AP exam, ranking Missouri 47th in the nation.
A recent opinion piece by McShane outlines the benefits of Course Access, especially in small rural school districts. In addition, McShane and Brittany Wagner co-authored an essay on Course Access programs around the country in which they highlight programs in Michigan, Minnesota and Texas and show how a Course Access program in Missouri might look.
Without a doubt, we all agree that all Missouri children deserve access to a great education. Through the years, new pathways to that goal have proven to be incredibly challenging. This year, Missouri legislators and school leaders are giving Course Access a fair review. We hold out hope that Course Access can begin to change the discourse and how we can all work together towards that goal.
Laura Slay, CEAM Executive Director
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