CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 45, No. 33

April 20, 2011

State Education Board Votes to Withdraw Rule
Steering committee of stakeholders to be formed

State education officials voted today to temporarily withdraw from the formal rulemaking process a proposal that would raise the bar on public school accountability and performance.

During its regular monthly meeting in Jefferson City, the State Board of Education approved a recommendation by Commissioner Chris L. Nicastro that the matter be taken off the table until August when it is expected to be reintroduced. At issue is raising the bar in the regulation that sets standards for public schools.

The proposed rule was published Friday (April 15) in the Missouri Register and opened for a formal 30-day comment period.  The Department continues to collect comments.

The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) is the state’s system of accrediting public schools. This update is known as ‘MSIP 5.’  For decades, the standards have been reviewed and elevated every five years. Each time the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education goes through the process of raising the bar, stakeholders tend to get nervous, said Nicastro.

“I am recommending that we withdraw the rule as it is currently published to allow time to further engage stakeholders,” said Nicastro to the board after providing an overview of the extensive process to date.

“We have determined that while MSIP 5 is extraordinarily important in our state; we cannot sacrifice our goals over an objection of ‘lack of input,’” said Nicastro.  “Giving us a few months to allow for additional input is not irreparable.  It is more important to bring our partners along.”

The additional time, she said, would allow the Department to have positive dialogue with the educational community and other stakeholders. Nicastro noted that an obstacle to gaining support has been a significant amount of misinformation generated in the field, and she believes that additional conversation will clear up concerns.

The six board members attending the meeting expressed a broad range of views. Board members firmly stated they are not in favor of ‘watering down’ the standards.

“I am reluctant to allow further delay on this,” said board member Mike Ponder before the unanimous vote of approval. “It is time to get moving on our goals for the Top 10 by 20 initiative. This is the first critical step."

“The process that we used might have been more transparent than in the past, but perhaps not as much as needed so that all parties feel they participated,” said State Board Vice President Stan Archie, who presided over the meeting.

The Rev. Archie said he would like to think that in the end we will have unity and oneness.

“We all want to recognize that we are one team with one objective," he said. "Our children deserve the best, and our standards need to allow them to do their best."