CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator
573-751-3469

Vol. 45, No. 26

April 14, 2011

Department Seeks More Input Into New School Rules
Commissioner of Education Also Underscores Importance of Top 10 by 20 Effort

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro announced today that she intends to recommend that the State Board of Education consider withdrawing proposed rules that would update school accountability standards. The 30-day public comment period for the proposed rules officially begins tomorrow (April 15).

The State Board is expected to consider the recommendation next Wednesday (April 20) at its meeting in Jefferson City.

“Nothing is more important for our children and for our state than ensuring a high-quality public education system is available,” Nicastro said. “A major part of how that happens is the criteria for holding schools accountable for academic performance.”

“There appears to be a lack of understanding about the current proposal, and we need additional time to work with our partners and stakeholders to reach consensus of what that looks like,” Nicastro said.

Missouri’s method of accrediting schools dates back decades. This system, the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), has been revised several times over the years. Each time the bar has been raised to keep Missouri standards among the highest in the country. The new standards being considered continue this tradition.

“The State Board of Education has put forward a recommendation that it believes will help ensure that every graduate in Missouri leaves school prepared for success beyond high school,” said Nicastro.

Moving ahead with new MSIP standards is part of a broader effort being conducted by the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education that is aimed at making education in Missouri among the top 10 states in the country. This initiative – Top 10 by 20 – has generated support from across the state. However, feedback received about the new standards suggests that further input is necessary before they are implemented.

“We know that the proposed standards might not be perfect, but they do offer a sound proposal that has the interests of nearly 1 million students and their futures in mind,” Nicastro said. “We need to hear from our stakeholders—parents, employers, educators and community leaders—about what will be good for our students and public education, as well as constructive comments on what might need to be revised before it is adopted.”

While the State Board gathers additional feedback about the proposed MSIP standards, the Department continues to move forward with the Top 10 by 20 effort.

“It’s critical that we continue to work together as a state to reach this goal,” Nicastro said. “This means not only implementing high standards for performance but also taking other critically needed steps to improve education in our state.”

Among the goals set by Top 10 by 20 are providing better access to quality early childhood education and ensuring that every child and every school across Missouri have outstanding teachers and educational leaders.

DESE continues to invite public comments on the proposed MSIP standards. Information about the standards is available online at dese.mo.gov/msip5. Information about the Top 10 by 20 effort is available at dese.mo.gov/top10by20.