State Board of Education will consider revised MSIP standards

A revised proposal for how Missouri will evaluate and classify its 522 school districts will be presented to the State Board of Education next week.

In April, the state board voted to accept Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro’s recommendation to temporarily withdraw the proposal from the formal rule-making process so the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education could gather additional input from stakeholders.

On Monday, DESE will give a detailed report and facilitate discussion of the revised Missouri School Improvement Program, or MSIP, 5 rule during the state board’s work-study session in Jefferson City. The board is expected to take formal action during its regular meeting on Tuesday, according to a DESE news release.

The MSIP is the state’s system used to guide school-improvement efforts and to accredit public schools. MSIP 5 would be the fourth revision since the program’s inception in 1990.

To collect stakeholder feedback, department officials created a steering committee of 14 representatives from education, business, civic and parent organizations to design a public engagement process and to identify a broad spectrum of participants to serve on five regional advisory committees.

In June and July, the department hosted a series of three regional meetings in five locations to share information, listen to concerns and collect specific suggestions. Through small-group discussions, the 350 participants identified a number of key concensus points for improving MSIP 5.

“We appreciate the involvement of the steering committee and all those who participated in this public-engagement process,” Nicastro stated in the release. “Participants should recognize that key issues are being addressed in the new recommendations.”

Key issues addressed in the department’s recommendations include:

• Revised resource and process standards will be brought to the State Board for consideration in a new rule by August 2012.

• Stakeholders will be involved in the development of the scoring guide.

• The classification appeal window is changed from 30 to 60 calendar days.

• The number of required assessments is reduced.

“I think the Department has been very responsive to the concerns that were expressed,” stated Missouri School Boards’ Association President Vic Lenz, who also is president of the Lindbergh Schools Board of Education. “The steering committee worked closely with the department, and our suggestions were followed throughout the process to come up with a positive result. I am also pleased that the steering committee will continue to have a role as the scoring guide is developed.”

Roger Kurtz, executive director of the Missouri Association of School Administrators, said the recommendations reflect issues and concerns that were raised during the regional meetings.

“I appreciate the department’s willingness to gather additional input on the MSIP 5 proposal,” Kurtz stated. “MASA is very appreciative, and we are eager to move forward with the department as we focus on raising student achievement around the entire state.”

“We have come a long way from where we were in March,” stated Ann Jarrett, a steering committee member representing Missouri NEA, one of three teacher organizations in the state. “The department responded to our request for practitioner input, and although there may still be a few areas of concern, overall, the proposed MSIP 5 rule has substantially improved from where it was last spring.”

Upon approval by the state board, the rule would be submitted to the secretary of state’s office for public notice and a formal 30-day comment period. Following final adoption by the state board later this year, the new rule would not go into effect for two years, according to the release. That two-year period allows schools time to make necessary instructional and operational adjustments, the release stated.