Missouri agrees to develop national academic standards for public schools

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 6:52 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 11, 2009

COLUMBIA — Missouri will now participate in a national movement forming common core standards in English and math, rather than watch from the sidelines.

“I’m glad that the state has decided to participate," said Michelle Pruitt, a member of the Columbia School Board and a parent who served on the district's Mathematics Community Advisory Committee before it was disbanded. "I think it’s important for Missouri to compare itself to other states and not be isolated.”

On Thursday, the State Board of Education voted to authorize Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro to join the Common Core  State  Standards Initiative. Although Nicastro still needs to sign the memorandum, she has publicly supported the initiative.

“We now have a patchwork of differing state-developed standards, and that has become a barrier to improving academic performance for all students,” Nicastro said in a statement.

The vote was 6-1, with board member Deborah Demien casting the dissenting vote, said Jim Morris, public information director for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In 2007, the state board voted against signing on to have national standards, said Russell Thompson, a state board member and former superintendent for Columbia Public Schools. At the time, board members were concerned with lowering Missouri’s standards to be a part of a movement to national standards, Thompson said.

Now, states can have higher standards if they choose, but they cannot fall below the national standards, Thompson said.

“The board discussed  (the standards) with the new commissioner and concluded that it was important to at least be involved in the discussion rather than having no role,” he said. “We’re hopeful that the new standards will have a positive impact on public education.”

States that haven’t signed on are Alaska, South Carolina and Texas.

On June 25, Gov. Jay Nixon sent a letter to Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, detailing his support for Missouri joining the effort to form common core standards.

Nixon signed the memorandum of agreement, but at the time he was waiting for a new state commissioner of education to be named, so that person could sign on as well. Nicastro was appointed July 2.

“I think we have nothing to lose and much to gain by joining the Common Core State Standards effort,” Nicastro said in a statement.

Developing good standards will depend on a solid review process, Pruitt said.

Organizations such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have reviewed Missouri’s standards in the past, Pruitt said. Missouri always gets low marks because the standards are not specific or focused enough, she said.

“When you have standards that are clear," Pruitt said, "that means parents, students, teachers and school districts can focus on achieving those standards.”

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Andrew Palmer August 12, 2009 | 9:19 a.m.

As a future social studies educator I continue to ask the question at what point are we going to acknowledge that there are four cores? Why are two of them left out of the common cores initiative? I have no problem with the states working together to set national standards. I have a huge problem with our chief educational decision makers ignoring Social Studies. The reason we have so many political problems and lack of understanding of our system is because we are not teaching it well, and not assessing it. I overheard a social studies teacher once in the district I work in say that he has considered teaching other contents but why should he when no one cares about social studies! The point being, why ask more of himself when no one else is doing it.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 12, 2009 | 10:05 a.m.

Andrew Palmer wrote:

"As a future social studies educator I continue to ask the question at what point are we going to acknowledge that there are four cores?"

If you mean the cores mentioned here:

there are only two - English Language Arts and Mathematics. Which other two cores do you mean?

I'd wager that language skills and mathematics are far more important for citizens to understand (I'd add science to that list, because of the frequency of technology being misunderstood) than social studies. Most of our political problems are a result of people not understanding numbers and language.


(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand August 12, 2009 | 11:26 a.m.

Andrew, you are spot on that one reason we have so many political problems and lack of understanding of our system is because we are not teaching it well. Just look at the federal government. When it comes to the economy, so many people blame Bush for this or were hoping that Obama would do that. But it's Congress, not the prez, that sets taxes, regulates Fannie, Freddie, etc. Apparently they were not taught the branches' roles, or else they weren't paying attention.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.