CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 23

March 27, 2011

DESE Seeks Additional Input on MSIP 5 Standards

Commissioner Chris Nicastro has announced that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will make a renewed and yet more vigorous effort to gather input on its proposed MSIP 5 performance standards.

For decades, Missouri has implemented a system of accrediting schools. Long before most states — and certainly long before the federal government — Missouri has maintained standards for ensuring high quality schools.  This system, the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), has been revised several times over the years, each time raising the bar to keep Missouri standards among the highest in the country.  This process of developing even higher and more rigorous standards is occurring again through the proposed MSIP 5 performance standards.

The State Board of Education took action at its meeting last week to authorize the publication of the revised standards.  These will be published by the Secretary of State's office for a 30-day period of formal comment beginning April 15. “Even before the official publication date,” Dr. Nicastro noted, “we can and will continue our dialogue with Missouri stakeholders.”

"While we have been receiving input on MSIP 5 standards for some time now, we can always do better. It is important that we hear from educators and others in Missouri whether he or she is a professional educator or not. When it comes to education, every Missouri resident is an important stakeholder,” she said.  “There is a very wise Japanese proverb: ‘None of us is as smart as all of us,’ and we need to hear from everyone,” commented Dr. Nicastro. “It has become clear that we must redouble our efforts to receive this valuable input.”

“It is gratifying to know,” continued Dr. Nicastro, “that, when it comes to adopting and implementing higher and more rigorous standards, everyone agrees. If our state is to be successful in its Top 10 by 20 initiative — something of vital importance for every child, business and resident of our state — MSIP 5 is a key step.”

The Top 10 by 20 initiative is a goal established by the State Board of Education for Missouri to rank in the top 10 of 50 states in terms of educational performance. By most measures, it now ranks close to the middle. Information about this initiative can be found on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

“During the past few months I have made a special effort to keep my ear to the ground to listen to what was being said about MSIP 5 and other issues related to improved performance in public education," added Dr. Nicastro. “What I heard was loud and clear. While everyone understands the need for higher and more rigorous standards, everyone also wants additional opportunities to comment and have input into our MSIP 5 performance standards. This is particularly true given the nature of our state’s economy and the changes that may be necessary to achieve a higher level of performance. People are worried and understandably so.”

“I am asking key educational organizations in the state — organizations representing school board members, teachers, principals, superintendents and parents — for their recommendations for getting additional input from their members. In addition, we are offering to visit with these organizations in person to listen to their input and concerns. Other groups representing the broader community will also be invited to weigh in. We look forward to receiving this additional feedback."

“Our Board feels very strongly about the need to move forward with high standards of accountability," added Peter Herschend, president of the State Board of Education. “But we should not let that desire deter us from receiving as much input as possible on the proposed standards. We want and need to hear from everyone, not just about MSIP 5, but also about the steps we should take, as a state, to achieve top 10 performance by the year 2020. This is a high priority goal for our Governor, the Legislature, the State Board of Education and the Department. It must be a priority for every Missouri citizen.”