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Ozark Schools, other area districts, granted Innovation Waivers

Desk with books and an apple
Michael Jarmoluk
Desk with books and an apple

The waivers allow the districts to use a real-time data assessment system.

Ozark Schools in southwest Missouri and other schools across the state will be able to break away from the traditional accountability for the Missouri Assessment Program over the next three years.

Ozark Schools and 20 and other public schools have been granted Innovation Waivers by the Missouri State Board of Education.

Dr. Craig Carson, assistant superintendent of learning in Ozark, said the waiver will allow them to use innovative methods of accountability to measure student growth and proficiency. This will provide real-time data, he said. Data from MAP tests taken during the spring aren’t available until the next fall.

"You can't make any actionable steps based on the data you receive," he said. "So, why not turn that upside down, and let's go ahead and give assessments that give us data for the kids in front of us?"

They’ll use the Evaluate test each month, according to Carson, and a third-party vendor will give the district feedback on how it’s doing in teaching the state grade level expectations.

"We look at that growth, and we help kids reach mastery," he said. "It just makes so much more sense, and it's more meaningful for kids, and for parents and for teachers."

Ozark will use Evaluate scores to show growth of each student, said Carson. At the same time, they'll increase real-world learning, work experiences and entrepreneurial experiences.

The MAP assessment is outdated, according to Carson.

Carson said they’re partnering with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the new assessment approach, which he called a demonstration project.

"We are trying to demonstrate to the (Missouri) Board of Education that there's a better way of accountability that works better for kids, parents and teachers and the state," he said, "and, so, we're trying to demonstrate that over the next three years using this through system approach."

He said they'll continue to administer the MAP test until the federal government grants a waiver, which the district plans to pursue.

Other local schools who have been granted Innovation Waivers are Branson, Lebanon, Neosho and Shell Knob.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.