JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – For the first time in months, the Missouri State Board of Education can finally conduct business.
The board met for the first time since 2017 on Thursday to conduct business after the ouster of former state education commissioner Margie Vandeven back in December, when former Gov. Eric Greitens had appointed five members to the board to vote her out.
The move did not sit well with members of the legislature, with the Senate stonewalling any attempts to confirm the governor’s picks, leaving the board without a quorum. Since then, five meetings have been canceled.
But the departure of Greitens and swearing-in of new Gov. Mike Parson quickly led to the appointment of two new members
With five members in place, the board met for a rather lengthy agenda, including a handful of applications for charter school renewals, as well as several recommendations. They also received updates from staff members of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Six Missouri charter schools received authorization to continue operations for the 2018-19 school year, highlighted by a 10-year renewal for Scuola Vita Nuova. Five other charter schools received five-year renewals:
· Brookside Charter School (Kansas City; sponsor, University of Missouri-Kansas City)
· Eagle College Prep Endeavor (St. Louis; sponsor, University of Missouri-Columbia)
· Gordon Parks Elementary (Kansas City; sponsor, University of Central Missouri)
· Lafayette Preparatory Academy (St. Louis; sponsor, University of Missouri-St. Louis)
· Lift for Life Academy (St. Louis; sponsor, Southeast Missouri State University)
In collaboration with the Department of Higher Education, DESE also updated literacy requirements to ensure sufficient training for educators so that effective reading diagnosis and instruction will be provided to all students. With state-mandated dyslexia screenings for children in grades kindergarten through third-grade taking effect for the 2018-19 school year in all regular Missouri public and charter schools, the updated requirements will provide future Missouri educators with additional literacy training in the areas of special education, elementary education and early childhood instruction. Required coursework will address curriculum, instruction and assessment in the following areas for students:
· Language acquisition
· Phonological and phonemic awareness
· Writing process
· Using authentic text and purposes
“Our committee worked quickly to act on the recommendations put forth by the dyslexia task force,” Office of Educator Quality Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik said. “For the many students who struggle with reading challenges, there simply is no time to waste. The changes proposed today will equip teachers with the skills they need to help all students succeed.”
The State Board of Education also received a progress report regarding the framework of the sixth version of the Missouri School Improvement Plan. DESE worked with six development teams to review, revise and create the draft Performance, Process and Resource standards. The development teams were organized around five major areas, which are reflected in the proposed MSIP 6 standards:
· Academic achievement
· Climate and culture
· Effective practices
· Leadership and governance
· Success-ready graduates
“One of MSIP 6’s biggest goals is to examine both overall student outcomes and the best, most effective practices by school districts,” Office of Quality Schools Assistant Commissioner Chris Neale said. “These have been aligned to ensure that Missouri produces success-ready graduates.”
Tools to measure success under MSIP 6 are still being developed, as is the basis for classification recommendations.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.