What’s Up with Missouri Learning Standards?

We keep getting asked the question: “What is going on with the Missouri Learning Standards?” Missouri educators, including school leaders and classroom teachers, are unsure about what the future holds for academic standards in Missouri. Changes in state standards mean changes in locally created curriculum as well as state assessments. We’re going to try to provide some clarification.

For the 2015-16 school year, classroom instruction across the state will continue to be based on the Assessment Graphiccurrent Missouri Learning Standards. Assessments in spring 2016 will align to those standards. The assessments will use the same online platform and compatible devices as in 2015, and the ACT® will still be administered to all Missouri 11th graders. The change for the spring 2016 grade-level assessment is that Missouri cannot license items from Smarter Balanced Consortium of States due to language added to the Missouri budget preventing their purchase. Items for the 2016 assessment will be based on the same standards, but will be pulled from a different item bank.

Missouri lawmakers passed legislation in 2014 that also directs changes to the Missouri Learning Standards. Eight standards work groups required under HB 1490 are finishing their work reviewing, revising and developing recommendations for academic standards for Missouri students. The work group members are parents and educators from across the state, and they are reviewing four content areas: English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. They are split up into groups for grades K-5 and 6-12. These groups are advisory to the Missouri State Board of Education, and the results of their efforts are due to the State Board by October 1. But the work doesn’t end there.

The General Assembly’s joint committee on education and academic researchers will have a chance to see and comment on the standards. That review will take several months as we work to make sure the standards continue Missouri’s tradition of high expectations for our students.

Once the review process is complete, we expect the State Board to review and give final approval to the standards by March of 2016.  Local districts will then make any necessary revisions to their curriculum based on changes made to the standards, and the new expectations will go into effect in the 2016-17 school year. New assessments aligned to the standards will be developed and administered beginning in spring 2018.

We are proud of the accomplishments our districts and students have made under the current Missouri Learning Standards. We expect the new standards to be at least as challenging and rewarding as we continue to prepare all Missouri students for successful lives and careers.