On Tuesday, January 27 the Joint Education Committee presented their interim studies at a hearing of the committee. Each of the studies were required as part of SB 291, passed during the 2009 session.
The first study presented was a study of charter school achievement in the state, looking at value-added estimates of charter and non-charter public schools in Kansas City and St. Louis. The study measured growth of individual students’ standardized test scores from 2006 – 2009 and compared achievement growth of students in charter schools to students in traditional public schools in the Kansas City and St. Louis school districts. The study also compared these scores to all Missouri public school students. While the study, used a statistical model which controlled for grade and year indicators, prior test scores, and student characteristics, I do not think it eliminated the selective enrollment magnet schools. This is a key of any charter study since charters may not have selective enrollment. According to Missouri law, they must have lotteries to determine enrollment.
The study found, as do most studies of this type, that some charter public schools perform better than the district zone schools and some perform worse. The important part is that the poor performing charter schools close. Furthermore, families should have access to high quality charter schools and practices from these schools should be immolated by others.
Also studied by the Joint Education Committee was the issue of urban school governance, especially in Kansas City. The study looked at history and research on school board governance, a school governance workshop summary, the specifics of urban school governance in the Kansas City School District (KCMSD), and took testimony at public forum in Kansas City. The committee focused mostly on the comments at the public forum, saying that some wanted a state appointed board to take over the district, but most wanted the reforms to come from within the city. Everyone appeared to be complimentary of the new Superintendent that had been hired in July of 2009. Another pressing issue of the report was the fact that six members of the school board are elected by district and only three are elected at- large.
The final study reviewed was the most watched one in the interim, the open enrollment study. The study highlighted Missouri’s optional or conditional open enrollment laws and other states’ laws on open enrollment and their K-12 funding proportions. As part of the study, public hearings were also held in Jefferson City, Branson, and St. Louis.
Some of the highlights of the study included: