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Missouri Ed Department Makes Updates to Its School Accountability Measures

Students cheer during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Rockwood School District's new Eureka Elementary School in August.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio
Students cheer during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Rockwood School District's new Eureka Elementary School in August.

Missouri has an updated rubric for measuring whether school districts are educating kids the way they should be.

The State Board of Education approved the changes at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

“It is an exciting day,” said Assistant Education Commissioner Chris Neale as he sat down in front of the board in Jefferson City.

The Missouri School Improvement Plan was first implemented in 1990. This is the sixth version, which the Department and Elementary and Secondary Education refer to as MSIP 6. It is the basis DESE uses to review and accredit school districts and target low-performing schools for intervention. A large part of MSIP is the Annual Performance Report scores districts receive.

In its early iterations, MSIP used to measure things such as how many books a school had in its library. It’s evolved to be based more on learning standards. 

“Our schools are being called to a much different approach today. They want to do things vastly differently,” said Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven. “We’re hoping this new iteration of MSIP gives that flexibility and actually promotes that type of innovation and thinking.”

MSIP 6 also includes oversight on cybersecurity, student mental health and active shooter safety.

“It seems like our educational system is taking on the woes of the world and tackling them,” said Carol Hallquist, a board member from Kansas City.

It took more than four years for the changes to be finalized. The process was held up for a year when then-Gov. Eric Greitens fired the education commissioner and removed so many people from the board it could no longer meet.

State board members stressed that there is still a lot of decision-making that happens at the district level, and that the state only sets standards, not a specific curriculum. 

“The real work starts after it passes,” said Neale, the assistant commissioner.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

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Ryan is a reporter on the education desk at St. Louis Public Radio, covering both higher education and the many school districts in the St. Louis region. He has previously reported for public radio stations WFYI in Indianapolis and WRVO in upstate New York. He began his journalism career working part time for WAER while attending Syracuse University. He's won multiple reporting awards and his work, which has aired on NPR, The Takeaway and WGBH's Innovation Hub. Having grown up in Burlington, Vt., he often spends time being in the woods hiking, camping, and skiing.