Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 3:08 pm
JEFFERSON CITY -- From the start of Monday’s six-hour session considering a variety of ways to help struggling schools, the head of the Missouri board of education emphasized that the state is concerned about long-range, broad-based policy, not the operations of individual districts.
But as board members heard a number of presentations on suggested reforms, the talk returned time and again to the current transfers out of unaccredited school districts and the impact on the students who live there.
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.
Missouri lawmakers are facing pressure to address a student transfer law and unaccredited school districts.
The law requires school districts without state accreditation to cover the costs for students who want to attend an accredited district within the same county or a bordering one. It makes no exceptions for those without room for new students.
Missouri now has three unaccredited districts. About 2,000 students have transferred from two districts in St. Louis County and transfers could start soon in Kansas City.
Two Missouri Democratic lawmakers are calling for state Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro to step down, saying she has demonstrated a tendency "to abuse power."
Sen. Paul LeVota, of Independence, and House member Genise Montecillo, of St. Louis, said in a statement Tuesday the most recent example arose in recently disclosed emails from the education department dealing with a ballot measure to end teacher tenure and require that student performance guide employment decisions.
A group of Missouri school superintendents has developed an alternative to a state law allowing students to transfer from unaccredited to accredited districts.
The Kansas City Star reports that under the plan, students in struggling districts could transfer to better-performing schools in their home districts. And after five years of failure, districts could be dissolved and distributed to accredited districts.
Two months after the start of a new school year, a new report shows that most of the students who transferred from a pair of failing St. Louis County school districts remain at the better-performing suburban schools where they relocated to.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a plan to build an $850,000 building for the Early Childhood Program in Moberly.
The state of Missouri will reimburse the district for 57 percent of the cost through its Special Education Finance Section. Director of Special Services Jim Johnson says the new building is necessary due to the state of the current structure.