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The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri’s Case for Key Education Reform Further Strengthened by Preliminary MSIP5 data on Individual Public Schools
April 23, 2013 (ST. LOUIS) – In response to preliminary MSIP5 data on individual public school scores obtained through an open record request, the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) – the state’s leading education reform organization – is asking that Missouri lawmakers to revisit and pass legislation that would require an individual school rating system.
Newly released data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) obtained through an open records request (which can be viewed here) shines a light on how individual schools would stack up if DESE were required to issue a simplified school report card to present parents and other stakeholders with clear, transparent information about a school’s performance.
SB344, which had a hearing on April 3, 2013 in the Senate Education Committee chaired by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), would require that all the parents in each public school in Missouri be given a simplified school report card that contains a cumulative percentage score as well as information on the school’s academic achievement, sub group achievement, graduation rate, attendance and college and career readiness, as well as a cumulative percentage score.
Earlier this legislative session, the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB388, which has language identical to that in SB344, with overwhelming bipartisan support on a vote of 128-22.
“Rating schools by districts poses a lot of problems for parents and educators by enabling over-performing schools to mask underperformers and vice versa,” said Kate Casas, state director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri. “Although we are disappointed the cumulative score on the report card will be a percentage and not be a more simple A-F rating, I applaud the members of the House leadership who worked to find a compromise and the 128 Democratic and Republican State Representatives who had the courage to vote in favor of a simplified School Rating System. This vote was an important step toward a more transparent education system in which parents and schools work together toward improvements where needed.”
Because Missouri only has entire district ratings, it is unclear to parents, community members and policy makers how students in a specific school building are performing. Consequently, many people believe that there are no problems in their school district because they have received the state’s highest rating, “Accredited with Distinction.” But when a top-rated district, like Springfield Public Schools, has a school like Westport Elementary where only 25.5 percent of students are reading on grade level, these district ratings don’t mean much.
“Just as Missouri parents deserve to know what grades their children are earning, so too should they be provided with a report card on the child’s school”, said State Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City). “School report cards are working to inform parents in other states about student and school performance, and Missouri parents need the same information.”
When Oklahoma released their new A-to-F school report card grades last fall, more than 675,000 people signed on to check out the grades in less than one week. The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri believes that informed and engaged parents are necessary to creating and sustaining a high quality school.
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