Top Takeaways: MNEA State Board Report (March 2024)

1. Reports on Literacy Program Initiatives and LETRS Training in Missouri

The Office of College and Career Readiness at DESE presented a report on Read, Lead, Exceed–Missouri’s Literacy Program. The report on Read, Lead, Exceed initiatives, included program reimbursement, a preview of the K-3 foundation reading assessment preliminary data, and plans for the future. Read, Lead, Exceed program allocated $4,198,494 in the first application window; the second application window–March 15, 2024 - June 1, 2024–has $25.3 Million allocated and will potentially impact 17,701 Missouri Educators and 556 Local Education Agencies (LEAs). As for Reading Assessment implementation, 515 LEAs have implemented state-approved assessments, and preliminary data is based on 414 assessments for grades 1-3. The preliminary data presented at the board meeting was established as baseline data for future data analysis. Future plans for Read, Lead, Exceed include increasing literacy coach capacity at Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs) to support all 556 LEAs in the state; expanding Science of Reading professional development to Middle and High School educators; and partnering with MetaMetrics to analyze Lexile level ranges for K-03 and create a scale to identify on-track range for K-3 based on grade 3 MAP proficiency.

The Office of Quality Schools introduced Stacey Pries of Preis Consulting and former DESE Deputy Commissioner (2014-2019), who provided an external evaluation of LETRS Training to the Board. The report gives an overview of the preliminary results of LETRS Training evaluation. Preis’ key takeaways show that teachers have confidence in their trainers and teachers showed large learning gains in literacy instruction if they attended LETRS training (learning gains are based on teachers’ pre- and post-scores on assessments of LETRS and Science of Reading components, not based on student performance scores). The next two external evaluations on the LETRS program will occur in Fall 2024 and Fall 2025. 

“The Association believes that early intervention leads to better outcomes for struggling readers” and these interventions should “reflect the hierarchy of reading development, including phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The Association further believes schools should provide all in-service teachers with quality, [ongoing] professional development opportunities in literacy and reading instruction”  (B-7). 

2. Accreditation of Missouri Educator Preparation Programs

Annually, forty-two Education Preparation Programs (EPP) submit data that are used to generate their own Annual Performance Report (APR) (5 CSR 20-400.44). The APRs for EPPs are presented annually to the State Board to designate accreditation status. All forty-two EPPs in the state of Missouri were designated as accredited during the March 2024 meeting. 

While the APR was the initial focus of the presentation, the State Board spent a significant amount of time discussing the most recent visual that represented 4,556 first-year teachers in Missouri. This graphic (below), shows that of the 4,556 first-year teachers in Missouri, only 42.3% got their certification from a Missouri EPP. The Office of Educator Quality representatives–Dr. Paul Katnik, Assistant Commissioner, and Dr. Daryl Fridley, Educator Preparation Coordinator–reminded the State Board that they have three levers to ensure the quality and quantity of educators in Missouri through traditional EPPs–Candidate Quality via certification requirements and assessments; program approval via approval of new EPPs; and program quality via Missouri Standard for the Preparation of Educators (MoSPE) and APR. The Board has been increasingly concerned with the low percentage of first-year teachers who attended a traditional EPP as they have less oversight of the candidate and program quality. First Year Teachers

Missouri NEA “believes that the traditional route for certification provides a more rigorous foundation and field experience for teacher preparation and should be preferred” (G-8). Further, the Association “believes that all teacher preparation programs in Missouri should undergo a rigorous and regular evaluation by a trained team of evaluators based upon the professional accreditation guidelines of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Each evaluation team should include practicing, public school classroom teachers” (G-2). 

3. Beginning Teacher Assistance Program Rule Amendments Approved for Public Comment 

With the most recent statistics surrounding fewer first-year teachers having attended a traditional Educator Preparation Program (EPP), DESE has looked at other avenues to support early educators in the classroom. This concern led DESE to create a workgroup of relevant stakeholders to amend the current Beginning Teacher Assistance Program Rule (5 CSR 20-400.385), which every educator must take to upgrade their certification. 

The proposed changes to the rule include: explicitly citing Missouri Professional Learning Guidelines for Student Success, aligning topics to the Missouri Teacher Development System Domains and Competencies, and adding clarification for the “ongoing support” listed in the rule. The rule amendments are up for public comment for the next 30 days, which can be submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  Attention: Paul  Katnik, Assistant  Commissioner, Office of  Educator Quality,  PO  Box 480,  Jefferson City, MO  65102-0480, or by email to The association supports these amendments as they align with best practices and evidence for professional learning and Educator mentorship.

“Missouri NEA believes that every child should have a qualified teacher in the classroom at all times, and that professional excellence requires continuing high-quality professional development…[which] should provide opportunities for education professionals to gain knowledge and skills important to improving the education of students.” (D-1 and D-20). 

4. Update on the Strategic Plan for DESE

Show Me Success

The State Board of Education is updating the strategic plan, also known as “Show Me Success”, which “communicates long-term direction and vision for the department.”  This refresh of the strategic plan will re-prioritize some of DESE’s current and future work. This work is ongoing and includes “updating roadmaps per collective feedback” to share with stakeholders across the state (Kansas City on March 13, St. Louis on March 27, and the remainder of the state from May through July.) and the creation of “scorecards” to measure incremental progress against 2026 targets. 

There was a brief discussion about who the stakeholder meetings would be with but no definitive statement. The Missouri NEA believes in the importance of having more teachers and education support professionals on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Advisory Committees,” which includes giving feedback to the strategic plan (A-20). 

MNEA believes that every student and educator deserves the best experience possible in schools. That is why we are the only educational organization that is consistently present at every meeting of DESE, the state board of education, and the Missouri Legislature. We are your eyes and ears when you cannot be present when decisions are being made about Missouri schools. 

The next meeting of the Missouri State Board of Education will be held on April 9 at DESE in Jefferson City, Missouri. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Samantha Hayes at 800-392-0236 or

The monthly State Board Report is also available in Podcast form at MNEA Connects. Listen on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Podbean, or Spotify.