Meeting Report of the Missouri State Board of Education (Sept. 13-14, 2021)

Board receives quarterly update on Normandy Schools Collaborative
Marcus Robinson, superintendent, and William Humphrey, Normandy Joint Executive Governing Board president, Normandy Schools Collaborative, reported on district work toward full accreditation. In response to a question about it, Robinson reported on his progress toward earning a doctorate. The university is looking for a fourth reader to react to his dissertation, then they will schedule his defense of his dissertation.

When school opened in August, Normandy had 300 more students than expected. They still have sixteen teacher vacancies. Normandy instituted Navigator Math and Expeditionary Learning. All teachers participated in three weeks of professional development in August. School schedules now provide early release on Friday afternoons for professional development while still maintaining required student instruction hours.  In addition to the new curriculums, professional development addresses social-emotional learning, classroom management, Instruction Taxonomy, and literacy skills.

Robinson said being a Normandy teacher this year is like working on a graduate degree while working full time.  He asked the state board to require 40 more hours of professional development because when he holds trainings on Thursday nights, only about half of the teachers attend even though he is offering them some compensation. He said the extra time is not in the contract bargained with NEA.  State Board President Charlie Shields told Robinson he would have to take that up with the union in negotiations.

DESE does not plan any calendar waivers for 2021-2022 school year

DESE staff reiterated the department’s emphasis on in-person learning and mitigation strategies for all schools.  No calendar waivers are planned by DESE at this time. Should districts have additional closures from COVID, they will be required to make up the lost instructional days or use their approved Alternative Methods of Instruction plan, as can be done with snow days. Districts are advised to encourage vaccination and masking combined with thorough and timely contact tracing and testing.

DESE leadership expressed concern with districts’ “over-quarantining” and “stepping outside their authority to implement quarantine and/or contact tracing procedures outside of or in conflict with local public health agencies.”  They also said if districts do not follow local public health agency guidance, they are in violation of MSHSAA rules. If a person is vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine. No quarantine is required when masks are worn properly per modified state guidance (Nov. 2020). DESE does not consider President Biden’s vaccination requirements applicable to public school staff at this time.

Missouri Assessment Program and End-of-Course Assessment Results Drop Slightly

DESE staff reported that MAP test average scores dropped just 3.4% for language arts, 5.6% for math, and 3.4% for science. DESE professionals believe students will be able to recover from these modest drops. With over 90% of students taking the spring assessment, there is no need to give these same assessments in a fall testing window. All students can use the time for learning. Presenters stressed that the data should not be used to make high-stakes decisions for students or teachers and should not be compared to previous scores without context.

Some preliminary conclusions:

  • Proficiency rates for onsite and hybrid students were higher than for distanced and virtual students. 82% of Missouri students received onsite or hybrid instruction.
  • Proficiency rates for students with access to the internet and a device tended to be higher. 81% of students had access to a device, and 78% had internet access.
  • Proficiency rates compared to 2018-19 (no testing during 2019-20):
    • Elementary grades declined more than middle school grades
    • Mathematics declined more than science and English language arts
    • The largest decreases (9.8%) occurred in Algebra I
    • The smallest decreases (<2%) were in grade 4 and 8 ELA and grade 8 math
    • Proficiency rates increased nominally in optional English I and Physical Science EOCs
    • Achievement gaps between all demographic groups has widened slightly
    • Achievement patterns for subgroups (IEP, free/reduced lunch, ELL) largely unchanged 

The complete analysis, including grade levels and subgroups, can be found here.

Board approves budget request for Fiscal Year 2023

The board voted to approve the budget requests outlined by DESE staff. The Fiscal Year 2023 budget request and the supplemental budget requests will be submitted to the Office of Budget Development for Governor Parson’s consideration to include in the budget he proposes to the state legislature. Mandatory items (federal programs, state/federal matching requirements, Foundation Formula, Special Education) are prioritized and additional items (state programming, department initiatives) are also included. The Department requests $3,673,396,75 for Fiscal Year 2023 to include usual program requests and funding for:

  • Appropriation authority for a variety of federal relief funds (ESSER, ARP, GEER, EANS funds)
  • Appropriation authority for a variety of federal grant funds (IDEA, Childcare, preschool, etc)
  • Continuous Improvement Resources for districts
  • 2% salary increase for some DESE employees who were left out of last year’s pay raise
  • $62,400 for House Bill 432 – Seclusion/Restraint in Schools

The complete report and ledger can be found here.

Board supports new Office of Childhood and Parents as Teachers

Pam Thomas reported on the new Office of Childhood. Governor Parson created this new DESE department to consolidate programs that support children but were housed in the Division of Social Services or the Division of Health and Senior Services. This consolidation will allow for coordination of different home visit programs and early childhood programs.  View this 4.5 minute video introduction.

The Parents as Teachers program continues, with plans to strengthen it. Staff are working on an MOU to use the name Parents as Teachers for Missouri’s universal access program, where all parents receive information and can opt into visits. The national PAT is designed to reach only students with the highest needs.  Parents as Teachers started in Missouri. State Board President Shields said DESE would defend Missouri’s use of the term Parents as Teachers if the national organization takes legal action.

The board approved publishing for comment thirty-three rule changes pertaining to the opening of the Office of Childhood, transferring authority from other Missouri state departments to DESE, and replacing day care with child care. About thirty-five additional rules with more substantial updates and changes will be brought to the board over the next few months. Missouri rules are to be reviewed for updates every five years.

In other business the State Board: 

  • Approved performance level cut scores for the revised government and American history end-of-course assessments.
  • Postponed any discussion about the Riverview Gardens Special Administrative Board. No explanation was given.

The next meeting of the Missouri State Board of Education will be on October 19, 2021. Missouri NEA will be in attendance. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Rebeka McIntosh or Ann Jarrett at 800-392-0236.  Details of state board agenda items can be found at here.

Respectfully submitted,
Rebeka McIntosh, MNEA vice president                                  

Ann Jarrett, MNEA teaching and learning director               

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