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Frequently Asked Questions: Mo Option Program

When did the Missouri Option Program begin in Missouri?

In 2002 the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education initiated the Missouri Option Program. The program is approved by the Missouri State Board of Education.

The Missouri Option Program has been utilized by approximately half of Missouri’s Local Education Agencies (LEAs) as an effective means to positively impact the retention of students, lower dropout rates and increase the number of students who are prepared for postsecondary education opportunities or to enter the workforce.

What is the Missouri Option Program?

The Missouri Option Program is designed to serve students who lack the credits necessary to graduate with their class and are at risk of leaving school without a high school diploma. The program specifically targets those students who are 17 to 20 years of age and are at least one year behind their cohort group or for other significant reasons identified in the local Missouri Option Program plan.

Graduation through the Missouri Option Program is not dependent on Carnegie credit attainment. It is a competency-based program approved by the State School Board that utilizes a high school equivalency exam as mastery for graduation purposes. The HiSET is the exam sanctioned by the state for the Missouri Option program and is developed and distributed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Missouri Option students who successfully pass the exam and complete all other program requirements are eligible to receive a high school diploma.

Note: A credential that includes the word "diploma" will be awarded. The LEA issues a "regular"
High School Diploma (the same as awarded to all students by local boards of education).

How does the Missouri Option Program benefit a student?

Ongoing academic/career advisement will be provided by the Missouri Option Program instructor(s), with supplemental guidance and counseling provided, as needed. Students will have access to all educational programs and services available in the LEA, receive valuable academic and life-skills instruction, earn a high school diploma, and upon successful completion of program requirements are eligible to participate in commencement ceremonies.

What is required of Missouri Option Program students?

Students must participate in a minimum of 15 hours of academic instruction per week. Students must also be enrolled in other school-supervised instructional activities (career education courses, elective classes, work experience, etc.) that lead to the student's classification by the LEA as a full-time student. The LEA should provide a level and quality of education that ensures the integrity of the Missouri Option Program and locally issued high school diploma.

Local Education Agencies may have additional requirements when issuing a regular high school diploma that is consistent with what is required of all students. Missouri Option students must take the required EOC's – Algebra I (or Algebra II if Algebra was taken prior to high school), English II, Biology and American Government. State law also requires that all graduate candidates take a course in government and the functions of government and pass the required tests related to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions. Participants must also complete a half unit course in Personal Finance and Health.

If a student takes the HiSET, what documentation will the LEA receive from the state verifying the students results?

The HiSET tests are designed to measure the major academic skills and knowledge associated with a high school program of study. Students enrolled in the Missouri Option Program take (and must pass) the HiSET tests in order to demonstrate and document the attainment of high school-level skills. The HiSET Score Report is one of the academic components required for the awarding of a high school diploma by the local education agency, and as such, is placed in the student's permanent record.

What happens if a student fails to complete the Missouri Option Program?

Occasionally, a student fails to complete all of the program requirements necessary to be awarded a diploma. In these instances, the passing scores on the HiSET belong to the student and the LEA should provide guidance to students on how to obtain their Missouri High School Equivalency Certificate.

What are the requirements for the faculty in the Missouri Option Program?

Teachers working in this program must have a valid Missouri teaching certificate in any content area or in Adult Education and Literacy (AEL).

Are specific funds available to support the Missouri Option Program?

No. The Missouri Option Program is not a grant program. However, LEAs do receive state aid for attendance of participating students.

How do schools or school districts "sign up" for the Missouri Option Program?

Click on the link below and follow the directions to sign up.  For more information, contact the Missouri Option Office at 573-751-3190 or 573-751-4426 or desemooption@dese.mo.gov.