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Missouri: High Standards but Average Student Achievement

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Top 10 by 20 Logo

The goal of Missouri’s State Board of Education is for student achievement to rank in the top 10 in the nation by the year 2020. In December, the board will vote on proposed new standards they hope will help accomplish that goal.

This week, during the board’s August monthly meeting, they gave the go-ahead to have the proposed new standards published so that citizens and others may review them before the December meeting.

Currently, “Missouri’s performance on a broad range of educational measures matches our geography – in the middle,” according to a flyer published by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The intent of the flyer is to promote their standards improvement program, which they call “Top 10 by 20.”

Program goals include improving student scores on state and national standardized tests in addition to making almost all Missouri students college-ready by 2020.

Although many Missouri students are not yet college ready, the standards the state holds them to are high. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics, Missouri standards in 2009 (the most recent information available) were the most rigorous in the United States for eighth-grade reading. Only Massachusetts’ standards were more rigorous for fourth-grade reading and math, and Missouri’s eighth-grade math standards rank third in the nation.

Although Kansas’ rankings for 2009 were not immediately available, in 2007 that state’s standards were significantly lower than Missouri’s. Their highest ranking was for eighth-grade math standards, which ranked 23rd in the nation.

Missouri’s standards may be among the highest in the nation. However, with student proficiency ranking in the middle, it remains to be seen how the state’s Board of Education plans to close the gap between what students know and what educators expect them to know.

Missouri’s State Board of Education met Tuesday, Aug. 16, in Jefferson City. Their next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20, and they plan to continue their discussion of how to improve student learning by setting standards higher than they already are.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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