Missouri Learning Standards - For Parents

About the Missouri Learning Standards

The Missouri Learning Standards define the knowledge and skills students need in each grade level and course for success in college, other post-secondary training and careers. These expectations are aligned to the Show-Me Standards, which define what all Missouri high school graduates should know and be able to do.

The Missouri Learning Standards do not dictate curriculum. Local districts and schools make their own decisions about curriculum, instructional strategies, materials and textbooks.

A Note From the DESE Curriculum Staff

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you for your interest in the Missouri Learning Standards. We hope this page will provide you with meaningful information about Missouri Learning Standards, assessment, and the role the Office of College and Career Readiness (OCCR) plays in your student’s education.

The Office of College and Career Readiness is a division within the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our responsibility is to (1) provide assistance to local schools in the adoption and adaptation of the Missouri Learning Standards and (2) to develop and administer state-level assessments.

Our first responsibility relates to The Show-Me Standards (1996) and to the Missouri Learning Standards (2016). Both the Show-Me Standards and the Missouri Learning Standards were written and developed in Missouri by teams that included Missouri educators. These state-level standards are not a curriculum but serve as a blueprint from which local school districts develop challenging curriculums to help all students achieve.

Our most essential goal is to prepare all Missouri students to graduate from high school well-prepared for college, careers and citizenship.

Curriculum decisions, along with textbook selections, instructional approaches and teaching strategies, are all choices made by your local school system. Our responsibility at DESE is to support your local school agencies with requested information and resources, to provide in-service training for their professional staff, and to assist as they align their locally written curriculum to these state standards.

Developing, creating and administrating the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) is part of our responsibility, too. The MAP Grade-Level and End-of-Course (EOC) content tests gauge students’ progress toward mastery of the Missouri Show-Me Standards and the Missouri Learning Standards. The results let school districts and parents know how their students are progressing in reaching the state standards.

Standards vs. Curriculum

Standards vs. Curriculum

What is the difference between standards and curriculum?

Standards define the knowledge and skills students need in each grade level and course for success in college, other post-secondary training and/or careers. Standards are established at the state level and provide a foundation for school districts to develop curriculum.

Curriculum, which includes coursework, co-curricular activities and other school-approved educational experiences, is the school’s formal plan to fulfill its mission statement and expectations for student learning. The curriculum links the school’s beliefs, its expectations for student learning and its instructional practices.

A district’s curriculum will not contain everything a teacher will say and do in a classroom. The district curriculum should include those items all teachers are expected to implement, administrators will monitor and districts will evaluate. A district curriculum defines required elements of instruction.

How are standards and curriculum used in Missouri?

The Show-Me Standards represent the foundation for skills and knowledge we, as Missourians, believe are essential to student success. The Missouri Learning Standards Expectations represent the specific knowledge and skills students are expected to know at each grade level.

Curriculum, which is aligned to statewide standards, is created, defined and evaluated by the local school district.

  Authority Assessments
Show-Me Standards State Aligned to State Assessments
Missouri Learning Standards State Measured with State Assessments
Curriculum District/Teacher Local Formative/Interim Assessments (A quiz at the end of a chapter, a spelling test, etc.)

How do we get from a Show-Me Standard at the state level to what my child does at the local level?

Standards in Missouri begin with the Show-Me Standards. Show-Me standards include performance goals and knowledge standards. Let’s look at this Missouri Learning Standard from 3rd grade English language arts (ELA):

“Read to develop an understanding of media and its components by explaining how various design techniques used in media influence the message.”

Next, we look at which performance goal and knowledge standard from the Show-Me Standards the 3rd grade ELA standard aligns to:

Performance Goal: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom. Students will demonstrate within and integrate across all content areas the ability to use technological tools to exchange information and ideas. Knowledge Standard: In English Language Arts, students in Missouri public schools will acquire a solid foundation which includes knowledge of and proficiency in speaking and writing standard English (including grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, capitalization).

Everything from the District Curriculum down is created by or chosen by the local district. They make the decision on how best to teach the standard.

  • Lesson Idea: Students will look at ads for toys – 3 from newspapers and magazines and 3 from websites. They will compare and contrast language used, illustrations and graphics in advertisements.
  • Local Assessment: Students will design and create their own ad for a given audience.
  • Test Question: Why do advertisers use bright colors in ads geared toward young audiences?

A district will take a Missouri Learning Standard and develop curriculum, lesson plans, local assessments and resources based on and aligned to the standard.

An example based on the chosen standard might look like this:

District Curriculum: Students will compare and contrast advertising both in print and online for intended audience and message and design and language techniques used to reach the intended audience.
Resources For Parents

Here are some helpful Resources and Links for parents to use with their student.

Common Terms
  • Assessment - Educational assessment is the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skill, attitudes, and beliefs. It is a tool or method of obtaining information from tests or other sources about the achievement or abilities of individuals.
  • Curriculum - The term curriculum refers to the lessons and academic content taught in a school or in a specific course or program. Standards - Educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.
  • Show-Me Standards - The Show-Me Standards, which define what all Missouri high school graduates should know and be able to do.
  • Missouri Learning Standards - The Missouri Learning Standards define the knowledge and skills students need in each grade level and course for success in college, other post-secondary training and careers.
  • Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) - The Missouri Assessment Program manages test development, on-going test maintenance, and oversees the test administration for statewide, large-scale assessments. The MAP assessments test students’ progress toward mastery of the Missouri Show-Me Standards.
  • Local Control - In education, the term local-control refers to states in which the governing and management of public schools is largely conducted by elected or appointed representatives serving on governing bodies, such as school boards or school committees, that are located in the communities served by the schools.
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: May my homeschooled children take the state assessment?
A: Home schooled students may take part in the Statewide Assessments at the discretion of the local school district. Home schooled students participating in the assessments will take the assessment(s) online at the local school with district-approved procedures in place during the school’s testing window.

Q: May private and parochial schools give the state assessment?
A: Private and parochial schools may also participate in the Statewide Assessments at their own cost. Private schools must uphold the same standardized administration procedures and security measures that Missouri public schools uphold.

Q: Who determines the standards over which my child is tested?
A: As required in HB 1490, legislatively selected work groups came together in 2014 to write the Missouri Learning Standards: Grade-Level Expectations for grades K-12. Following a period of public hearings and comment, these expectations were adopted by the Missouri State Board of Education in April 2016. Later in 2016, groups of educators from districts across Missouri came together to create state exam blueprints outlining which standards would be tested and to what degree.

Q: Who writes the MAP Grade-Level and End-of-Course exams?
A: Teams of educators from districts across Missouri come together to write test items, which are later reviewed for alignment, sensitivity, and bias by additional teams of educators representing the diversity of Missouri’s schools.

Q: My children attend public school. Are they required to take the state test?
A: Yes. Based on federal law, all students must participate in required Statewide Assessments.

Q: As a parent, how can I make best use of the results from my child’s MAP Grade-Level and End-of-Course test?
A: Your child’s teacher can review the test report with you to explain areas of strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your comfort with the subject matter, you can then choose to assist your child at home to improve areas in which your child has difficulties or opt for extra help at school or through a tutor.

Who Do I Contact?

Local Education Topics

Do you have questions about the education your student is receiving? Have concerns about the curriculum being taught? Want to share thoughts about the textbooks being used? Want to know more about the local assessments the district uses? Need to talk about the homework your student receives?

All of these topics (and more) are controlled at the local level. This means your first step is to talk to the teacher. If you don't get the answers you are looking for, you can "move up the food chain" so to speak and contact building administration including the principal. The next step would be to contact the the district superintendent. Finally, you can bring your concern to the school board.

Statewide Topics

At the state level, you can talk with department staff about the Show-Me Standards, the Missouri Learning Standards and Statewide Assessments (including the MAP Grade-Level and End-of-Course tests).

If you have questions about the Show-Me Standards or Missouri Learning Standards, please contact us at 573-522-4003 or curriculum@dese.mo.gov.

For questions about Statewide Assessments, please contact us at 573-526-4886 or assessment@dese.mo.gov.