The devil is in the details, as they say. Missouri’s DESE has made available its 10x20 Education Reform Plan which is the plan to make Missouri one of the top 10 states in the country in terms of education by the year 2020. The goals listed in the plan have an overall positive sound.
GOAL 1: All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready.
GOAL 2: All Missouri children will enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school.
GOAL 3: Missouri will prepare, develop, and support effective educators.
GOAL 4: The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will improve departmental efficiency and operational effectiveness.
Let’s look at the specific objectives given for each of these goals in order of least concerning first.
Goal 1 OBJECTIVE 1: The percentage of students:
A. Scoring at or above proficient level on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will increase by 1 percentage point at each test administration.
B. Scoring at or above proficient level on state assessments will increase each year to exceed 75% of students in all subgroups by 2020.
C. Scoring at or above the mean of the top 10 states on college and career ready assessments (e.g. ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ASVAB, TSA) will increase annually.
These might be the least controversial objectives. They require the average student to score at the proficient level and set higher benchmarks for subgroups (reduced or free lunch, racial or ethnic subgroups, or ESOL)
OBJECTIVE 2: By 2020, all students will qualify for entrance into post secondary education/training.Is this meant to match Arne Duncan’s goal of 60% of students going on to post secondary education? Qualifying to go into post secondary education/training is one thing. But note this statement in the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) 5. Among the performance standards and indicators which may be used for reporting purposes on the Annual Performance Report is this:
The percent of students who successfully progress from ninth grade through high school graduation within five (5) years, attend post-secondary education and graduate with either an associate’s degree within three (3) years or a bachelor’s degree within six (6) years.
So on the one hand we will be required only to qualify them to be accepted into college. But we will measure the success of our k-12 school districts by whether their graduates COMPLETE college. I have to wonder, at what point does it become the individual’s responsibility to educate themselves? By college age they are responsible for their own credit score and contractual obligations, but apparently it is still their high school who is responsible for whether or not they graduate college? By the way, the comment period on the MSIP(5) opens April 15th and DESE wants to hear from you.
OBJECTIVE 1: By 2020, all candidates completing preparation programs will be highly by a uniform set of performance data points.
OBJECTIVE 2: By 2020, all educators will meet the definition of highly effective.
Can we see the definition of highly effective? How about the set of performance data points?
OBJECTIVE 1: Annually 90% of plan related activities entered into a project management system will meet or exceed their process and progress measures.
OBJECTIVE 2: By 2020, 100% of Missouri’s school districts will use the Missouri Comprehensive Data System to inform major decisions and improve efficiency.
OBJECTIVE 3: By 2020, 70% of targeted audiences will report being adequately informed about the implementation of the Plan.
Sounds like a good objective, but who is the target audience? How will you know they have been adequately informed? Will there be an assessment?
Now we get to the P20 part of the objectives.
A. The percentage of young children (birth to kindergarten entry) who receive developmental and health screenings will increase by 2% annually.
This should be done by the child’s pediatrician. Will DESE now be in the business of providing doctors to those who can’t afford them in order to meet this objective?
B. The number of parent education visits to families with young children will increase by 2% annually.
Until you reach what percentage? 100%? If the percentage is something lower, what criteria will be used to determine who gets visited? What will they be looking for? If DESE has a vision for what a student “prepared to be successful in school” looks like, wouldn’t it be a good first step to send every new parent home from the hospital with the list of all the things their child will be expected, by the state, to know and be able to do in 5 years?
C. The number of parent education visits to high needs families of young children will increase by 2% annually.
The governor had to strip funding from The Parents As Teachers program, but somehow we are going to find funding to pay for parent education visits to an ever increasing pool of high needs families? Sounds great and may be needed, but how are we going to pay for it?
OBJECTIVE 2: The percentage of early childhood programs for Missouri’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers that meet established quality standards will increase by 2% annually.
Perhaps all these questions are simplistic and their answers so obvious that DESE wouldn’t waste their time responding. The answers probably do exist in some very detailed report and what is posted on their site is just an overview but, can we see the details please?