Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

A Missouri State senator has filed a remonstrance that calls for the immediate resignation of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education

A Missouri House subcommittee is considering whether to approve more money for student assessment tests under the new Common Core State Standards.

The standards are designed to put in place common nationwide achievement goals in math and language arts.  Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told committee members Tuesday that implementing the Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.

comedy_nose / Flickr

Twelve St. Louis area schools with low academic performance will receive a total of more than $6.2 million in federal money to kick start classroom improvement.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which is distributing more than $43 million nationally to seven states. 

DESE website

Missouri’s commissioner of education has been buffeted by two controversies that have led to calls for her resignation but also expressions of support from her bosses on the state board of education.

To explain the controversy swirling around Chris Nicastro, Missouri’s embattled commissioner of elementary and secondary education, state school board member Mike Jones invokes the words of a legendary Texan, Jim Hightower:

The only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.

(Mo. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Two members of the Missouri General Assembly are calling on Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Chris Nicastro to resign.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A joint Missouri House/Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on whether the state's teacher tenure system is working.

Among those testifying was Mark Van Zandt, General Counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  He says tenured teachers can be held accountable under the current system.

KWMU Staff

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released its Annual Performance Report for Missouri school districts last week. It is the first year in which schools were assessed under new standards. The results disappointed many local leaders and leave plenty of room for improvement for a number of St. Louis area schools, including St. Louis Public Schools.

Provided by Susan Uchitelle

Because the St. Louis Metropolitan area did such an outstanding job with its first voluntary student transfer program, fortunately or unfortunately they have now been blessed with a second one.  This transfer program however, entails just two suburban school districts, Normandy and Riverview Gardens, both of which are unaccredited. As a result, their students may transfer to another school district in the region.  2640 students have signed up to transfer.     

Cast a Line / Flickr

Welcome to our guide to the Missouri school transfers situation. This document will be updated as the news changes and we gather more information.

Have more questions? Tweet us at @stlpublicradio or leave it in the comments below.

Last updated 1/07/14

What is this law?

Will the law be changed?

Which districts are involved in the St. Louis region?

Chris McDaniel

The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling on Breitenfeld v. School District of Clayton on June 11 reversed a lower court decision and found that state statute 167.131does not violate the Hancock Amendment. The statute provides that an unaccredited school district must pay tuition for students to attend school in another accredited district in the same or an adjoining county.

Missouri NEA

Chris Guinther is wrapping up her final month as President of the Missouri chapter of the National Education Association. She’s led the teachers’ union since 2007, and will return to the classroom full-time at Francis Howell schools in St. Charles.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin sat down with Guinther recently, where she talked about the challenges she says are facing Missouri’s public schools:

Some good news that reflects positively on Missouri’s public schools

(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.

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The US Department of Education is waiving all No Child Left Behind requirements for Missouri schools.

The federal law requires students to meet proficiency standards in reading and math by 2014. Missouri applied  for a waiver after roughly 18 percent of districts in the state failed to meet yearly academic goals.

DESE says that MAP scores are up, even though most local districts did not meet AYP targets, but Missouri's commissioner of education says rather than concentrating on what is mandated by NCLB, parents and others should concentrate on APR.

To translate for those of you who do not understand eduspeak:

The latest results on the Missouri Assessment Program show growth across the board, but the numbers were not high enough to meet the annual yearly progress mark set by the federal No Child Left Behind act.

Chris Nicastro
DESE website

When Chris Nicastro was named Missouri's commissioner of elementary and secondary education last year, the news was that she was the first woman and the first urban educator to hold that position.

No one knew that the better shorthand would be this: the commissioner who had to deal with the state's worst budget crisis in recent memory.

So is it accurate to sum up her first 12 months in the job as interesting?

"That's an understatement."