DESE

(via Flickr/cayoup)

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a wide-ranging education bill that includes an expansion of the A+ scholarship program.

Senate Bill 638 will allow private schools in Missouri to take part in the program if they meet the same requirements as public high schools. Students from A+ schools are eligible to attend community college in Missouri for two years, free of charge.

Missouri Capitol building
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

The only task the Missouri General Assembly is required by law to accomplish has been accomplished and, for the second year in a row, accomplished two weeks before deadline.

Lawmakers have sent a roughly $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

As problems with student learning persist in the Normandy school district, and lawmakers in Jefferson City appear to oppose a cap on tuition paid for student transfers, the vice president of the Missouri state board of education said the end of the district could be close.

Courtesy Normandy School District

(Updated at 9:32 p.m. with Pearson quotes, resignation statement from McNichols)

Normandy school superintendent Ty McNichols resigned from his post Thursday night after the state-appointed board that runs the district made plans to begin a search for someone to serve in his job.

Charles Pearson, a retired educator who had been serving as chairman of the five-member Joint Executive Governing Board, will take over as interim superintendent. He resigned from the board and was replaced as board president by Andrea Terhune.

Courtesy Normandy School District

While policy debates and legal battles swirl around the new Normandy school district, Savonna Stacey has a more personal question:

Where can her son attend first grade when the new school year starts?

The Stacey family lives in the Normandy school district, and last summer, Stacey took advantage of the state law that lets students living in unaccredited districts enroll in nearby accredited ones. She enrolled Jonathan in kindergarten in Ritenour.

Chris Nicastro
DESE website

Updated 2:03 p.m.

Here are three names of new board members, confirmed by St. Louis Public Radio: 

  • Reginald Dickson, Normandy resident/serves on board of Beyond Housing

  • Charles Pearson, retired administrator/resident/Task Force

  • Richard Ryffel, past-president Beyond Housing//Executive Director J.P. Morgan Bank

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

(Updated at 4:54 p.m., Tues., May 20)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to replace the Normandy School District with a new entity with the same boundaries but run by an appointed board, effective July 1.

An empty desk
Bubbles | sxc.hu

While St. Louisans celebrated our past this week, the news held hints of our future.  Most significant was a proposal from state education officials to revamp how they deal with troubled districts.

Long term, the proposal would allow state officials to intervene early and with a range of approaches. Short term, the state board took financial control of the Normandy schools – a move that caught district officials by surprise.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

As planning begins for school transfers in the St. Louis area in the academic year that starts in August, and Missouri lawmakers return to Jefferson City for the new legislative session, one issue will loom large for both groups:

What changes, if any, will come to the transfer law that has dominated so many headlines, discussions and school board meetings in recent months?

DESE website

After four hearings in Normandy and Riverview Gardens, plus suggestions and plans and proposals from education groups and lawmakers from throughout Missouri, it’s time for state education officials to try to come up with a plan to help struggling school districts.

And Chris Nicastro, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, wants to make sure that whatever plan her department comes up with, that is the focus: helping underachieving students and schools succeed.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public radio

  The crowd was a lot smaller at Wednesday night’s second hearing called by Missouri state school officials into the future of the Normandy school district, but its passion remained strong.

And its message was a simple one: Their school district deserves more time to turn itself around, so the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should come up with a plan that stops students transfers and helps Normandy survive.

DESE website

Despite a growing chorus for Chris Nicastro to leave her post as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, the head of the state’s school board gave her a vote of confidence Monday and defended the selection of a consultant currently looking into the Kansas City schools.

Nicastro has come under fire in recent weeks, first for her consultation with an education advocacy group on its initiative petition that included changes in teacher tenure, then from a Kansas City Star story on Sunday.

DESE

Missouri's public school leaders are hoping state lawmakers next year will fully fund the formula for the state's K-12 school system, though they know the likelihood is slim.  Ron Lankford is Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Administrative Services for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  He spoke recently with St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin about the request and what full funding would mean for the state's 520 school districts:

What is the funding formula and what does it include?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri’s commissioner of education said Monday that until three years of data are available from the St. Louis Public Schools under the state’s new evaluation system, she doesn’t see a move toward restoring control of the school district to an elected board.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Anyone who wants to play what Normandy’s school superintendent calls the “MSIP game” better make sure to know the rules.

Since his district’s annual performance review score was revealed last month to be 11.1 percent – lowest in the state – Ty McNichols and other Normandy administrators have been poring over the numbers, trying to determine the best way to rise out of unaccredited territory by achieving a score of at least 50 percent.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It looked like a useful federal announcement, the kind that state education officials routinely pass on to local school districts and the public. The item was titled “Affordable Care Act – Back to School Materials.” It announced that the U.S. Department of Education was supporting efforts to inform the public about full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been working for years to get authority to step in more quickly to help unaccredited school districts.

Now that a newly signed law gives it that power, the state board of education wants to make sure that it uses it in the right way.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Of the 521 school districts in Missouri with recorded accreditation status reported by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 97.4 percent are fully accredited. That’s all but 14. Of those, 11 have received provisional accreditation, and three are currently unaccredited. Those three – in the news for the last couple of weeks on account of the June Missouri Supreme Court ruling regarding student transfers from unaccredited districts – are Normandy and Riverview Gardens in the east, and Kansas City in the west.

(via Flickr/cayoup)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is moving forward with fully implementing new standards in Missouri’s K-12 schools for teaching math, English and language arts.

Spokeswoman Sarah Potter says the new standards are based on those crafted by the Common Core State Standards initiative.

“The standards say what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level to be on track for success in college and career,” Potter said.

knittymarie / Flickr

St. Louis public schools will find out tomorrow if they’ll regain at least provisional accreditation from the State Board of Education.

St. Louis schools lost their accreditation five years ago and were soon after placed under state control, but they have improved over the past two years.  In 2010 they only met 3 out of 14 performance standards, with six being the minimum require for provisional accreditation.  Last year they met the minimum six, and this year they’ve met seven performance standards.  State Board Member Peter Herschend (R) says, though, there’s no guarantee the vote will go St. Louis’s way.

(via Flickr/albertogp123)

Missouri high school student performances on the SAT college entrance exam are down slightly this year, according to a report released today by the not-for-profit group The College Board.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Missouri’s average American College Test (ACT) score remains unchanged for the eighth year in a row, according to figures released today by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The average ACT score for Missouri high school students is 21.6, a half a point higher than the national average of 21.1.  Despite having the same average score as last year, Missouri’s ranking among the 50 states edged up slightly from 27th to 26th.  The highest possible score is 36 and the lowest is one.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

MoDOT resurrects controversial I-55 ramp proposal

The Missouri Department of Transportation is again pushing a proposal to build two-lane ramps to ease the congestion at Interstate 55 and the Poplar Street Bridge.

(via Flickr/Lauren Manning)

Preliminary figures on how many Missouri high school students earn their diplomas have been released, and a new procedure for calculating graduation rates is being used.

The new procedure is mandated by the federal government,  and it only takes into account students who complete high school in four years time.  Michele Clark is with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

(Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Missouri’s top K-12 education official is giving lawmakers mixed grades on the just-completed legislative session.

An audit released today finds that several state agencies in Missouri have not adequately kept track of how federal stimulus dollars are being spent.

The state has spent about $2.6 billion in money received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.