Facts About the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is the administrative arm of the State Board of Education. It is primarily a service agency that works with educators, legislators, government agencies, community leaders and citizens to maintain a strong public education system. Through its statewide school-improvement activities and regulatory functions, DESE strives to assure that all citizens have access to high-quality public education. The department does not regulate, monitor or accredit private, parochial or home schools.
DESE’s responsibilities range from early childhood to adult education services. DESE employs about 1,700 people throughout the state and has a total budget of about $5.4 billion. About 96 percent of the budget consists of state and federal funds that are distributed to local school districts and other agencies.
Duties of the Commissioner
The Commissioner of Education directs the department and fulfills other duties as prescribed by law (Section 161.122, RSMo). The law states that the commissioner shall “seek in every way to elevate the standards and efficiency of the instruction given in the public schools of the state."
In addition to the Commissioner of Education, the department organization reflects functions under two divisions, Financial and Administrative Services and Learning Services.
Division of Financial and Administrative Services
This division is responsible for distributing all federal and state funds to local school districts and other agencies that provide education-related services. The division assists local school officials with budgeting, audits, and the reporting of financial statistics, both state and federal. The division also provides assistance with school administrative and governance issues. Other personnel in this division administer the federally-funded school lunch and breakfast programs. This division also manages DESE's internal business operations, such as accounting and procurement, budget, and human resources.
Division of Learning Services
This division is responsible for all of the department’s activities related to educational success of students, educators, and schools. The division includes offices which manage quality schools, college- and career-readiness, special education, educator quality, early and extended learning, adult learning and rehabilitative services, and the data system management.
A primary function of the Office of Quality Schools is to manage the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), the state’s accreditation system for public school districts. This office also administers a wide range of state- and federally-funded programs that assist local schools (Title I, Title III and other federal programs), charter and other innovative schools, as well as developing a statewide system of support for schools, communities and families. Schools also are provided assistance on federal and state-developed improvement initiatives which are coordinated with other state and regional services. The sections of Early and Extended Learning are responsible for the overseeing DESE's efforts to expand and improve early learning opportunities for children and providing supports for teachers, programs, parents and families of young children. Staff administers the Missouri Preschool Program and the Child Care Development Fund Grant. The office is also responsible for the development of early learning standards.
Extended learning (afterschool) programs provide a safe, caring and nurturing place for extended learning, social, recreational and personal life skills development for students during non-school hours (before- and/or after-school). Grant programs administered by this office include the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants, School Age Community grants, and the Afterschool Retreat Reading and Assessment Grant program. The programs foster partnerships among the schools, parents/families and communities.
The Office of College and Career Readiness provides technical assistance to local school personnel in the adoption and adaptation of the state’s performance standards, and curriculum development/adoption of all content areas -- math, science, social studies, English/communication arts, health/physical education, fine arts; as well as the career and technical content areas of agriculture, food and natural resources; business, marketing and information technology; family consumer sciences and human services; and technology, health and skilled technical sciences; and guidance and counseling. This office also assists schools and career centers with the administration of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and Missouri career and technical student organizations. In addition, this office is responsible for the development and oversight of the Missouri Assessment Program, consisting of the annual, grade-level assessments for grades 3 – 8 and the end-of-course high school assessments, as well as the administration of NAEP (National Assessment on Educational Progress).
The Office of Special Education administers state and federal funds to support services for students and adults with disabilities. This office works with other state and local agencies to coordinate the Missouri First Steps program, which provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The office works with local school districts in developing and improving special education services for students (ages 3-21) with disabilities. It also provides financial and technical support for all approved sheltered workshops in the state. Sheltered workshops provide employment for adults with disabilities. This office also oversees the operation of three school systems administered by the State Board of Education. These are the Missouri School for the Blind, the Missouri School for the Deaf and the Missouri Schools for Severely Disabled. Through their outreach programs and consulting services, these school systems assist local school personnel and families throughout the state in meeting the needs of children with disabilities.
The Office of Educator Quality is responsible for evaluating educator preparation programs offered by Missouri’s higher education institutions. The Office of Educator Quality also issues certificates (licenses) to all professional personnel who work in the state’s public school systems, as well as assisting with the review of certificate-holders who are charged with misconduct. This office is responsible for development of innovative professional development programs for educators (teachers and administrators) at the state level. It also assists in the development of teacher, principal and administrator standards, as well as development of evaluation models for school personnel.
The Office of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation Services administers statewide adult education services, including adult education and literacy, the high school equivalency-testing program (HiSET) and veterans education.
Rehabilitation Services provides specialized services to adult citizens with disabilities to help them achieve employment and independence. Offices are maintained across the state to provide convenient services to clients. Rehabilitation Services personnel provide individualized counseling, training and other services to help clients achieve gainful employment or independent living. Rehabilitation Services is supported primarily with federal funds. The office currently funds Independent Living Centers across the state. These centers provide counseling, advocacy, personal care, and training in independent living skills for adults with disabilities. The Disability Determinations program is part of this office and operates under regulations of the Social Security Administration. Located in offices across the state, Disability Determinations personnel adjudicate claims from Missouri residents seeking federal disability benefits.
The Office of Data System Management is responsible for the development and implementation of the Missouri Comprehensive Data System (MCDS) which will include the student-level record system, Missouri Student Information System (MOSIS); Core Data, a web-based data collection system of education-related statistics; and Grants and Planning (ePeGs), an instrument provided to schools to assist with federal grant applications and program planning. The MCDS also maintains the P-20 longitudinal data system utilized for tracking and research of student progress and achievement, postsecondary and workforce preparation, adult learning and high school equivalency completers, etc. The Office of Data System Management also coordinates school district data team training and certification regarding the use of data to improve classroom instruction. In addition, the office collects and generates data to meet federal reporting requirements and compliance, as well as provide data utilized in research and analysis that impacts policy decision-making.