Missouri education department drops goal of having schools among nation’s 10 best | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri education department drops goal of having schools among nation’s 10 best

Apr 18, 2017

Missouri education officials decided Tuesday to no longer aim for its public schools to be ranked among the nation’s 10 best by 2020.

The Missouri State Board of Education’s course correction comes amid changing federal education policies.

Earlier this decade, Missouri adopted the national Common Core curriculum standards for reading and math like many other states, but then dropped them and instituted new state-specific ones for K-12. Further, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that’s being rolled out this year returns to states a significant amount of authority over how to measure school success.

The ambiguity within education standards means the “Top 10 by 2020” target, which was set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education no longer makes sense, board member Mike Jones said.

“Now that we are moving away from that as a context for doing education, there is no top 10, by definition,” he said.

Credit Andy Sminds / Flickr

The state will continue to work toward goals such as increasing the number of high school graduates who score well enough on college entrance exams to go onto higher education (only about 42 percent of graduates currently exceed state standards), but will use a different way of measuring success than straight numerical comparisons with other states.

“I think we would be in error if we were to celebrate increases in rank that don’t reflect increases in proficiency,” deputy education department commissioner Stacey Preis said.

Other “Top 10 by 2020” goals included expanding early childhood opportunities, improving teacher training and making the department more efficient.

The state’s 87.8 percent high school graduation rate ranked 10th best nationally in 2015, the department said. Test scores, though, are consistently in the middle of the pack — Missouri ranks about 20th best for 4th-grade test scores and eighth-graders ranked about 30th best.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.