According to Edweek, DESE has joined several other states who have postponed their submission of their State Consolidated Plan until the September 2017 deadline. Hopefully this means that the public will have a chance to see and comment on the actual plan before it is submitted to the US Secretary of Education. In the mean time DESE will begin work on revisions to the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP6).

Many administrators in Missouri recall that the revision process for MSIP5 (in 2012) was the first time the state unilaterally changed MSIP without traditional input from local education agencies. This was done because the Governor and Commissioner had made so many promises already in order to qualify for both ARRA funds (which brought us Common Core and an exponentially expanded state longitudinal data system) and a waiver from NCLB requirements (which confirmed our acceptance of Common Core and participation in SBAC.) It appeared that we were headed for a similar revision process here in 2017 if DESE went ahead and submitted our state plan without input from the LEAs. They would have no choice but to insist that MSIP6 align with whatever was in the Plan and the local districts would just have to go along with it.

It is still a work of fiction to claim that ESSA turned control back over to the states. Just look at the Guidance Document that came out of the USDED in January to see all of the specifics the states are required to “report” to the US Secretary. State Consolidated Plans (SCPs) must address these areas.

1. Long-Term Goals
2. Consultation and Performance Management
3. Academic Assessments
4. Accountability, Support, and Improvement for Schools
5. Supporting Excellent Educators
6. Supporting All Student

 

To guide states as to what must be in the SCP, this phrase is used repeatedly throughout the guidance document, “Does the state identify its ambitious State-designed long-term goal and measurements” for X? The word “uniform” is also used repeatedly. It is not sufficient for the state just to have a plan to address any of these issues in order to receive federal Title I and Title II monies, it must be “ambitious” and “long-term.” Therefore it would seem critical that LEAs have serious input into whatever “ambitious” and long-term” plan the state develops since they will be required to implement the policies, procedures, standards, and assessments of the plan at primarily their own expense. The word uniform implies that even districts not deemed “low performing” would have to implement all elements of the plan if they had some sub-population described by the plan enrolled in the district.

The most recent guidance letter from Monique M. Chism, Ph.D., Acting Assistant Secretary, Elementary and Secondary Education USDED dated April 10 reminded states of the importance of stakeholder input.

“I also want to take this opportunity to clarify that, in developing its consolidated State plan, your State must meet the statutory consultation requirements of the individual programs included in the consolidated State plan.”

 

MSIP addresses many of these areas and is a way for Missouri to meet that statutory requirement. The brief overview of what MSIP is from DESE’s website shows the parallel to ESSA requirements.

MSIP 5, begun in 2012, has four goals:

  • Articulate the state’s expectations for student achievement
  • Distinguish performance of schools and districts in valid, accurate and meaningful ways
  • Empower stakeholders through regular communication and transparent reporting
  • Promote continuous improvement and innovation within each district

The MSIP 6 work groups will begin meeting in April and will continue their work at least through the end of 2017. The work groups will be formed for each of the four areas:

  • Academic achievement – ensuring the performance standards are appropriate and are measured correctly
  • Climate and culture – promoting student-centered instruction
  • Systems and processes – ensuring that districts have necessary systems and processes in place
  • Success-ready graduates – students who graduate prepared for college and career

Given that DESE had initially been aiming for an April 3rd deadline and that they will be presenting a draft plan to the Joint Committee on Education May 1st, the Department is likely far down the path to having a developed plan. Expect the MSIP6 working groups to receive DESE’s favorite delphi-style meeting strategy where they will be directed to respond only to areas where DESE may have some flexibility in changing the already written plan.

Somewhere along the line it became Missouri’s goal (from the March 17 DESE news release) to “ensure that every child is prepared to succeed after graduation.” DESE said it will be using the input from the regional meetings held in 2016 to develop MSIP6. I know from the meeting I attended in St Louis that there was no consensus on what success after graduation meant except maybe that students be self sufficient (and out of their parent’s basement). It would be one thing to provide the opportunity for every student to succeed. It is another thing entirely to ensure it. That is a lofty goal whose achievement opens the door to endless assessment, intervention, citizen tracking and cost. This will make the development of MSIP6, and the state’s SCP something to keep a very close eye on.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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