- Total Enrollment 910,386
- Schools 2,424
- Economically Disadvantaged Students 51%
- Students with Disabilities 14.4%
- English Language Learners 3.8%
- Students Attending Urban Schools 18.5%
- Students Attending Rural Schools 26.6%
- Graduation Rate 88.3%
Data source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Common Core of Data (CCD). Graduation Rate data are from 2016/17; all other data are from 2017/18.
State Story March 2020 – April 2021
Dr. Margie Vandeven, Missouri's appointed Commissioner of Education, was sitting in a meeting on March 11th talking about COVID "what-ifs" when the global pandemic was announced in the meeting. Within two days, the Governor declared a state of emergency and schools were closed.
Initial Decisions and Approach
- Focused on taking care of the Whole Child as well as LEA and SEA staff.
- Provided social and emotional support.
- Addressed educational access and the Digital Divide.
SEA and LEA Role Delineation
- The SEA role was to provide support to LEAs, in some cases by removing policy barriers.
- Barrier removal meant reviewing state statute and applying for waivers in some cases.
- A well-structured state system with connected departments helped the state implement a coordinated response.
Supportive Partners or Resources
- Governor’s office activated a coordinated cross-agency state response.
- Supportive state partners included the state’s school board, educators, state legislators, and business leaders.
- Leaned on other state chiefs as thought partners.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided LEAs with a health and safety-related guidebook.
- Emphasized the need to reach every child to ensure they were both safe and learning.
- Acknowledged that LEA leaders were “stretched very thin.”
- Encouraged communities to support their local leaders as they grappled with challenging decisions related to re-opening.
What Comes Next
- Continue meeting LEA needs now and after the virus is gone.
- Tackle tough issues like assessment, equity, and educational access.
- Provide “grace” through policy adjustments.
- Address budget gaps.
August 2020 – December 2020
Re-Opening Plan Implementation
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, along with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, released re-opening guidelines for schools in early August 2020. The guidelines contained clear virus mitigation strategies but did not include mandates for re-opening. Re-opening decisions were left to local school boards and local jurisdictions.
Status of School Models
- Many schools began the year "in-person."
- There was widespread concern about student engagement and learning loss.
- Leaders were focused on adjusting to a "new normal."
Recover and Rebuild
As Missouri saw progress in virus mitigation, schools continued to make local decisions about in-person learning. Commissioner Vandeven learned about the diverse needs of the state’s 555 LEAs through frequent communication with nine State Supervisors of Instruction. Through those communications, the Commissioner identified a need to focus on the whole child, equity, retaining and supporting teachers, assessment during the pandemic, and the thoughtful investment of relief funds.
Recover and Rebuild Section Two
Priorities (January 2021 – End of Year)
- Continued focusing on the Whole-Child.
- Examined data to understand impact of digital divide on student engagement.
Recover and Rebuild Section Three
Retaining and Supporting Teachers and Staff
- Addressed teacher retention and burnout.
- Supported teachers and counselors.
- Protected time for teacher and staff self-care.
Recover and Rebuild Section Four
- Planning for a spring assessment.
- Extending testing window to allow schools to offer remote or in-person formats.
- Identifying priority learning standards to maximize instructional time.
- Examining results to understand the relationship of delivery models and technology access to students.
Investing Relief Funds
- Ramping up COVID-19 testing and vaccines for teachers.
- Addressing classroom spacing requirements.
- Funding PPE and additional cleaning procedures.
- Addressing acceleration of learning.
Recover and Rebuild Section five
Assessment and Accountability
- Identify key questions you want answered as early as possible to understand what data to collect and analyze.
- Understand that while formal state-level accountability may be suspended during a major disruption like a pandemic, the general public may continue to hold schools accountable for student performance.
Planning for Summer and Next Year
Reflecting on In-Person Learning
- Reopening looked different across Missouri’s 555 local education areas (LEAs) as it is a diverse, local control state. While needs across LEAs varied, safety and well-being were a primary focus for all.
- Vandeven expressed concern about the great social-emotional needs found across the state.
- Even though COVID-19 still exists, Vandeven asserts there is “Light at the end of the tunnel” due to the availability of vaccines.