Frequently Asked Questions and Educational Topics
Please expand the sections below for information regarding specific areas of interest.
- Accreditation: How are school districts accredited?
The Missouri School Improvement Program has the responsibility of reviewing and accrediting the public school districts in Missouri. The process of accrediting school districts is mandated by state law and by State Board of Education regulation. Click here to learn more about the accreditation classification of school districts.
- Career and Technical Education
Missouri Career and Technical Education combines academics and occupational skill training to prepare students of all ages. Training programs are offered in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Skilled Technical Sciences, Technology and Engineering, and Marketing and Cooperative Education. Click here to learn more about Missouri's Career and Technical Education delivery system.
- Certification: How do I become certified as an educator in the state of Missouri?
Visit our Educator Certification page to learn more about:
- Teacher Certification
- Administrator Certification
- Student Services Certification
- Substitute Teacher Certification
- Class Size: What is the maximum class size for each grade level?
- Compulsory Attendance Law
Section 167.031, RSMo, states that any parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of a child between the ages of seven (7) and the compulsory attendance age for the district, must ensure that the child is enrolled in and regularly attends public, private, parochial, home school, or a combination of schools for the full term of the school year.
- The term "compulsory attendance age for the district" shall mean seventeen (17) years of age or having successfully completed sixteen (16) credits towards high school graduation in all other cases.
- Children between the ages of five (5) and seven (7) are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if they are enrolled in a public school their parent, guardian or custodian must ensure that they regularly attend.
- Control: Who controls my school district?
Under Missouri law (Section 171.011), the board of education for your school district is authorized to establish “all needful rules and regulations” to govern the operation of your school district. Because the law gives such broad authority to your board of education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does NOT have the power – in most cases – to get involved in disagreements between parents or patrons and school personnel. If you disagree with a decision by school officials or with the actions of a school employee, we recommend that you take these steps:
- Make sure you are familiar with the school policies that apply to your situation. Is your concern addressed by the student handbook or other school policy document? Did a school employee act according to the district’s existing policy? (The student handbook and other policies should be available on your school district’s web site.)
- Document your complaint in writing (what happened and when), so that you have an accurate record of events. You may or may not choose to send this information to school officials at some point.
- Follow the “chain of command” to resolve your complaint. Discuss your concern with your child’s teacher, if appropriate. You may pursue your concerns with the principal or other building-level administrator. If the issue is not resolved, contact the office of your superintendent, and then your school board.
- Concerns/Complaints about a school district? Find out who can help.
- Discipline, Suspension, Expulsion
Under Missouri law, the local board of education for your school district is authorized to establish “all needful rules and regulations” to govern the operation of your school district, including student discipline. For this reason, the department does not have the authority to change a student’s suspension or expulsion from school. If you disagree with a decision by school officials, or with the actions of a school employee, we recommend that you review your local school board policy to determine your options for resolving your complaint.
- Funding: How does the state of Missouri fund public schools?
The Foundation Program, or the Foundation Formula, is Missouri’s primary method of distributing money to public schools. Although school districts receive funding for different programs from different sources (local, state, and federal), the Foundation Formula is the major source of basic state support for public schools. Created by state law, the formula is a complex mechanism based on several factors: student attendance; local property tax rates; the proportion of students in a district who are disadvantaged or need special education; if the school district provides summer school; and others. Funds received through the Foundation Formula must be used primarily to pay teachers’ salaries in the school district. This formula is defined in state law, Section 163.031, RSMo.
- Graduation Requirements: How many credits does a student need to graduate?
The State Board of Education establishes minimum graduation requirements that are designed to ensure that graduates have taken courses in several different subject areas and mastered essential knowledge, skills, and competencies. Local boards of education must adopt graduation policies that include at least the state minimum graduation requirements. Local board policy may include additional requirements in accordance with needs and aspirations of students and the communities they serve.
- High School Equivalency (HiSET/GED)
- High School Graduation Verification
To verify that someone graduated from a public high school in Missouri, you must contact the school district where that person attended. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cannot verify information about individual students. Please use the Missouri School Directory to find the appropriate contact information.
- High School Transcripts or Diplomas
To obtain a copy of your high school transcript, you must contact the school district you attended. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not keep individual student records. If the school you attended has closed, your records would have been transferred to the district that serves the area now. To find contact information for a specific school, use the Missouri School Directory. Most schools do not keep copies of the actual diploma that you were awarded at graduation. These are merely certificates of accomplishment. Your high school transcript is the document needed to prove that you received the appropriate number of credits in order to graduate.
- Home Schooling
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not regulate or monitor home schooling. There is no registration required with the state. There is no program for the inspection, approval, or accreditation of home schools in Missouri.
There are laws about home schooling, but they do not fall under the authority of DESE. To
find the laws, you can go to the House of Representative’s website and search for home schooling.
DESE does not provide any supplies, funding, or information about home schooling, and we suggest
you visit your local library or contact a home schooling association for more information.
- Immunization Requirements for School Entry
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Immunizations oversees school student immunization policy and requirements. Follow this link to the immunization requirements for schools. You may also call 573-526-7659 for specific information regarding immunization rules.
- Inclement Weather/Make-Up Days
- Kindergarten and First Grade Entry
- Laws: Where can I find the laws that govern Missouri public schools?
- Minutes of Instruction: How many minutes of instruction are students required to receive?
- Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) 5
The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) 5 works to prepare every child for success in school and life. MSIP 5 is the state’s school accountability system for reviewing and accrediting public school districts in Missouri. MSIP began in 1990 and entered its fifth version in 2013.
The Department believes high expectations, a clear vision and a few very focused, high impact goals will be critical to drive the improvement efforts necessary to bring about positive results.
- Moving to Missouri?
- Planning Time: How much planning time are teachers allowed?
Planning Time—Each full-time classroom teacher, including kindergarten teachers, shall have a minimum of two hundred fifty (250) minutes of scheduled planning time each school week. It is desirable to have fifty (50) minutes of planning time each day. Planning time is calculated between the official start and close of the school day and does not include travel time, lunch time, or time before or after school. (Planning time is not required for administrators, counselors, or librarians.)
- School Calendar: How is the school calendar determined?
Missouri statute directs that each school board shall prepare annually a calendar for the school termper Section 171.031.1, RSMo. The school term shall consist of one thousand forty-four hours of actual pupil attendance which shall be required with no minimum number of school days required, and "school day" shall mean any day in which, for any amount of time, pupils are under the guidance and direction of teachers in the teaching process. For kindergarten and prekindergarten grade levels the board shall provide a minimum of five hundred twenty-two hours of actual pupil attendance in a term with no minimum number of school days.
- Residency and Student Enrollment: How do I determine which school district to enroll my child in?
Statute 167.020, of the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo), states that a child is entitled to attend school where the child resides and is domiciled, and that "the domicile of the minor child shall be the domicile of the parent or court-appointed legal guardian..." Click here to learn more about residency and student enrollment.
- School Governance
- Special Education
- Student Transportation
The Student Transportation section provides state transportation aid for public school districts and charter schools for transportation services to and from school at the beginning and end of the school day during the regular school term, and career education and special needs transportation. This section also provides technical assistance for school administrators and school bus contractors on Missouri statutes and regulations that govern Missouri public student transportation, as well as offering a Certified School Bus Driver Instructor Program. Student Transportation also provides the Missouri Minimum Standards for School Buses, which regulates the equipment for the school bus body and chassis.
- Students with Disabilities
The Compliance Section within the Office of Special Education supports the mission of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Vision of the Division of Learning Services by providing leadership in establishing standards which promote improved outcomes for students with disabilities as well as consistency in the procedures public agencies implement for meeting compliance with state and federal regulations.
The Compliance Section is responsible for ensuring local educational agencies (LEAs) implement all laws and regulations related to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is done through monitoring special education programs for students with disabilities ages 3-21, in all public schools, providing technical assistance and investigating child complaints.
- Vocational Rehabilitation
If you want to work but have a disability that keeps you from finding, keeping or advancing in a job, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) may be able to help you. VR specializes in employment and training services that can assist you in becoming employed. A VR counselor will determine your eligibility for services. To be eligible, you need to have a physical or mental impairment that causes problems with working and need VR services to be successfully employed. Once eligible, you will work with a counselor who will help you develop a plan for your rehabilitation.