Reimagining Education

Tell Missouri’s State Board of Ed to Raise the Bar on Accountability

Kate Casas, State Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

As a result of the increased accountability, tougher standards and a focus on closing the achievement gap, The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri hopes the Missouri State Board of Education adopts the newly proposed Missouri School Improvement Program 5.

For the 4th time since 1990, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be updating the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). The MSIP is the program used to grade Missouri’s schools as accredited, provisionally accredited and unaccredited. This most recent update is known as The MSIP 5

Each time the MSIP has been updated, DESE has raised the bar by making the standards more difficult and by challenging districts to ensure that each student has an opportunity to receive a high quality education—the MSIP 5 is no different.

As evidence that the bar needs to be raised on Missouri’s public school, there were over 300 school districts that were awarded a perfect score under MSIP 4; however, a report produced by ACT (the company that produces the college entrance exam) found that only 32% of Missouri’s graduates are prepared for college in Science and just 44% are prepared in Math. DESE recognizes a district that is preparing less than half of its students for college should not be receiving a perfect score on its annual report card. Therefore, through MSIP 5 DESE suggests addressing this issue by ensuring there are measures in place that will hold all districts accountable for providing adequate post-secondary preparation for all students.

To further strengthen the case that Missouri’s students need MSIP 5, the achievement gap in districts in all corners of the state remains persistently wide.  For example in the Columbia School District 66% of white students were reading at grade level in the 2010-2011 school year, but only 23% of African Americans were reading on grade level. Additionally, in Columbia, only 35% of African Americans scored proficient on the math assessment while 66% of white students.

History proves that the achievement gap can be closed by creating and maintaining high expectations and standards for all students. As a result, DESE has suggested that MSIP 5 hold districts accountable for not making significant progress toward closing the achievement gap. It will do so by requiring districts to continue reporting on the achievement of various groups of students, and by increasing the focus on college and career readiness for all students beginning at an early age.

Increases in accountability, strengthening of standards and focusing on closing of the widening achievement gap, all of which are included in the MSIP 5, are vital to Missouri’s ability to provide a world-class education to its citizens. For this reason, The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri has submitted comments to the State Board of Education urging it to adopt the MSIP 5. We hope that Missouri’s residents who are concerned about the future of our state and the education of their children will do the same. The comment period is open until November 1. Comments can be submitted via email (msip@dese.mo.gov),  online (https://www.research.net/s/desemsip5),  or by U.S. Postal Service at, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Attn: Margie Vandeven, assistant commissionerOffice of Quality Schools, P.O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480.

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