The Missouri State Board of Education gave final approval Tuesday to updated standards that provide guidance to local school districts in a number of areas, from curriculum and class size to college and career planning.
The State Board gave preliminary approval to the standards in September 2012, followed by a 30-day public comment period. The Department received comments during that time and made changes to the standards based on public input.
A number of the comments requested the reinstatement of a requirement for all high schools to offer a specific number of courses and specific types of courses. Other comments - such as those provided by the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) and the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) - supported the Department’s recommendation to provide school districts with local control over high school course offerings.
“We urge DESE to continue to allow local boards of education to exercise the greatest possible local control over resources and processes as we work together to improve student performance throughout our state,” wrote the President and the Executive Director of MSBA in a letter to the Department.
"While we believe local control is vital to our public education system, we also urge school leaders to develop curriculum that reflects the community their school district serves," said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "In some parts of our state, for example, agriculture education is essential to the vitality of the community and its residents. We expect that these districts provide agriculture courses, FFA activity and other curricular and extra-curricular offerings to prepare their students."
The standards will still require districts to offer the following high school courses: English language arts, mathematics, science, career education (such as agricultural education), social studies, world languages, fine arts (art and music), physical education, health, practical arts and personal finance as appropriate for their students and communities.
While the resource and process standards are part of the Missouri School Improvement Program, the state's school accountability system, they do not determine a school's accreditation, which will continue to be based on performance. The standards are provided to assist schools as they determine how to effectively invest their resources to improve student performance.
More information about the standards can be found at www.dese.mo.gov/qs/MSIP5rs.html.