State education board approves plan for unaccredited districts

March 26, 2014 

The Missouri State Board of Education approved at its March meeting a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plan for supporting and, if necessary, intervening in school districts in Missouri.

The focus of the plan is to provide every student access to high-quality education in their local communities. The plan includes tiers of support and intervention based on district performance. If performance begins to slip, support and then intervention are implemented to prevent districts from becoming provisionally accredited or unaccredited.

The tiers are not new levels of accreditation; they work within the existing Missouri School Improvement Program.

The unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools has been at the center of lawsuit questioning the legality of a state law that allows students from that district to transfer at the cost of the unaccredited district to neighboring suburban districts, including the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

The case remains tied up litigation despite a state Supreme Court’s ruling that the law is valid.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all plan,” said Deputy Commissioner Margie Vandeven. “The Department has developed multiple options for supporting and intervening in districts based on specific local needs and challenges. Focused early intervention in districts and schools is vital.”

The plan calls for increased support and collective responsibility before a district reaches the unaccredited level. For example, performance contracts between the State Board and the local district board of education would be executed should a district become provisionally accredited.

These contracts include specific achievement targets and identify additional support and intervention such as access to high-quality early childhood education, meaningful parent and community engagement, extended learning opportunities, leadership development and wraparound services.

Unaccredited districts would receive a fiscal monitor as student transfers are enacted, and the state board would review district governance. Local boards of unaccredited districts could remain in place, a special administrative board could be installed, or an alternative governance structure may be created.

The plan was based on current research regarding effective intervention, together with ideas submitted by several education organizations, school districts, and parents, teachers, administrators and community members from around Missouri. The Department gathered feedback on the recommendations at two hearings: Feb. 24 in Kansas City and Feb. 25 in St. Louis.

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