Published: January 6, 2005
Standards and Accountability: Missouri has clear and specific standards in science for the elementary, middle, and high school levels. But its English and mathematics standards lack clarity and specificity; its social studies/history standards are clear and specific only for middle schools and high schools.
Missouri lacks state assessments in both science and social studies. But it’s one of 19 states that test students in English and other subjects using multiple-choice, short-answer, and extended-response items in all grade spans.
Missouri also has a strong accountability system.
The state publishes test data on school report cards and uses the data as part of its school rating system.
Missouri also provides help to schools rated low-performing and has sanctions for all consistently low-performing or failing schools, including non-Title I schools. For example, the state may reconstitute a school by replacing its staff and overhauling its programs.
The state does not reward high-performing or improving schools.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: Missouri scores in the top 15 states for its efforts to improve teacher quality, partly because it has a broad framework of teacher education requirements.
The state requires its high school teachers to have majors in the subjects they plan to teach, and its middle and elementary school teachers must have at least minors in their subject-area concentrations.
The state also requires all prospective teachers to complete eight semester hours of student teaching and two semester hours of clinical experience before their student teaching begins.
In addition, teachers must pass basic-skills, subject-matter, and subject-specific-pedagogy exams. But once they are in the classroom, novice teachers are not evaluated by state-trained individuals using performance assessments.
While the state pays for professional development, it allows local districts to set their own standards and to decide how much time to set aside for professional development.
Missouri requires two years of mentoring for new teachers, but provides no state money specifically for that purpose.
The state identifies low-performing teacher-training programs and publishes the passing rates of those institutions’ graduates on state licensing tests. In addition, the state evaluates teacher education programs based, in part, on information from employers about the programs’ graduates.
School Climate: Missouri receives one of the higher grades in the school climate section, partly because of the above-average scores the state earns on the National Assessment of Educational Progress survey in the areas of student engagement, parent involvement, and school safety.
The state is one of only 17 that survey students, teachers, or parents about the climate in their schools. The state administers the surveys, known as the “advance questionnaires,” to students, teachers, support-staff employees, and parents.
Missouri’s school climate grade dips because it is one of only 11 states that do not provide funding for the construction of school facilities. Missouri also lost points because it doesn’t have a law or program designed to reduce school bullying.
Equity: Missouri receives a below-average grade in equity primarily because of its low McLoone Index and high coefficient of variation.
The state ranks 47th out of 50 for its McLoone Index, which measures what it would cost to bring student spending in districts below the median level to that median.
Missouri also has a 15.4 percent coefficient of variation, indicating wide disparities in spending across districts within the state.
The state’s wealth-neutrality score also shows Missouri has slight inequalities in local and state revenue related to local property wealth.
Spending: In the 2001-02 school year, Missouri spent $7,515 per pupil, ranking it 32nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Even with a 7.2 percent increase in spending from the previous year, though, Missouri still had just 44 percent of its students in districts spending at least the national average.
It ranks 34th of the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the spending index. That index accounts for how many students are in districts spending at or above the national average, as well as how far the rest of the students are below the average.
Missouri equals the national average for total taxable resources spent on education, at 3.8 percent.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 123