Missouri gives individual schools authority in new act

Related Story

JEFFERSON CITY – Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has signed off on Missouri's plans for implementing a new act that focuses on improving support and resources for historically under-performing student groups.

It's known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

Missouri's plan is designed to improve basic educational programs and protect students in racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as homeless students. It calls for developing leadership skills for administrators, increasing access to additional coursework and offering more support to students.

Chris Neale, assistant commissioner for the Office of Quality Schools, said the ESSA will bring in $320 million in federal revenue. He said the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to leave it up to the schools to decide how best to use the funds they are given.

“We chose as a state to send all of the money that we can out to the schools for their use,” Neale said. 

ESSA is the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act.

Neale said the Missouri School Improvement Program is behind the wheel in Missouri. It addresses all districts across the state, while ESSA operates at school level.

Neale said local boards of education have responsibility and authority to control local education.

“Our best strategy is to have a strong partnership with local schools to make sure that schools are the best possible educational opportunity for the students that enroll there,” he said.

Schools identified as low performing will work directly with DESE to implement changes within the schools.

Around 60 schools are expected to fall under that designation by the end of the year.

Missouri spent several months finalizing its plans to submit for the program.

“We greatly appreciate the feedback we received from educators, business leaders, lawmakers, parents and students about what matters most in education,” said Roger Dorson, DESE's interim commissioner.

Parts of ESSA are already being implemented, but the program will be in full effect this fall.