An innovative and bipartisan committee designed to create a vision for the future of education in Missouri presented its findings to the State Board of Education on Tuesday. The Commissioner’s Educational Policy Committee (CEPC) outlined six foundational topics and discussed a series of action items the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) can take to make strides towards its stated mission of ensuring that every student graduates ready for success.
“The work of this committee will directly impact the lives of the more than 900,000 students in the state of Missouri,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. “Missouri students are entering a climate that is constantly changing, so it is important for us to always be looking for new ways to best prepare them to succeed.”
The CEPC began work in the spring of 2019 as a partnership between DESE, the Hunt Institute and the Education Commission of the States to discuss state and national trends in education. During two sessions, the CEPC identified recommendations for Missouri across the following six topics:
- Building the Workforce through Early Childhood Education – Focus on standards, adequate and equitable funding, and encouraging statewide support for quality early childhood education.
- Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention – Develop policies relating to teacher pay, leadership opportunities, mental and physical health support, and professional development.
- Workforce Development and Tomorrow’s Economy – Create systems for strategic conversations across education, business and government to outline pathways from K-12 to postsecondary education and the workforce.
- Innovative and Flexible School Structures – Serve students’ individual needs through flexible and innovative programs to give them the skills and knowledge they need for success.
- Using Data Systems – Develop statewide goals for the use of data systems in accountability and equity and show how strong data systems are useful and important.
- Redesigning Accountability Systems – Reward innovation within districts while incorporating traditional standards for literacy and numeracy to support success for all students.
In all, 33 leaders from across Missouri comprised the committee, including representatives from the Governor’s Office, the legislature, and the State Board of Education as well as business representatives, district superintendents, principals, and teachers, among other constituencies.
“Let’s meet the needs of each individual, student and teacher, in any way that we possibly can so that they can better educate our kids to be able to reach the goals that they have,” said State Board of Education vice president Vic Lenz.
The CEPC took its direction from eight priorities established during a spring State Board of Education retreat as well as Missouri Governor Michael Parson’s two key areas of focus: infrastructure and workforce development.
“In talking to CEOs, particularly in Missouri, workforce development is the number one issue,” said State Board of Education president Charlie Shields. “There are many other things that go into an organization’s success, but those pale in comparison to the ability to attract a workforce.”