Leatherneck Blogger

Missouri’s Race To The Top Application

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Esther Bohnert

There is much misinformation circulating today about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as they relate to Missouri’s education system. Missouri’s Race To The Top (RTTP) grant application had to be signed and submitted by 1-19-10, but the first draft of CCSS was not released until March 2010. Missouri applied for funds for education standards that had not yet been written. What did Missouri promise the federal government in order to get these funds? I will cover several examples taken directly from the application Missouri submitted.

On page 10 Missouri began by stating that their vision “embraces” the notion advanced in the book Nudge where Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein outline the need for “choice architects” to subtly steer choices toward positive results while leaving people, districts and schools “free to choose.” People don’t know what’s best for them; government will “steer” them in the right direction.

Missouri already participates in data collection and CCSS will only add to that. On page 15 of the application, one of the goals of Data Systems to support instruction says that it would “provide a database accessible to researchers throughout the nation that is the first-ever link between student performance, teaching practices and leadership decisions.”  This decision to link data across state lines is a violation of Missouri Revised Statutes.

The Missouri Comprehensive Data System (MCDS) is already up and running in Missouri schools as outlined on page 21. It will be used to “collect and maintain detailed student and staff-level data linked to one another across entities and over time, providing a complete history for each student in the P-20 system.” P-20 means pre-kindergarten through college and into career.

“Missouri is prepared to adopt the new system of P-20 standards as a result of the collaborative efforts of DESE’s career education staff and the Missouri Dept of Higher Education.” On page 79, Missouri states that current law outlined in Section 173.005 Missouri Revised Statutes, requires the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to “establish common competencies for all entry-level collegiate courses in English, math, foreign language, sciences and social studies.”

On page 93 Missouri also promised to “develop a model curriculum framework consisting of course descriptions, unit outlines, measurable objectives, interim/benchmark assessments and scoring guides, suggested evidence-based instructional strategies, instructional timelines, and a state online instruction support environment tied to the Common Core K-12 Standards and all other content areas in the P-12 spectrum.” Reading this leaves me to wonder what is going to be left to the local school districts to decide.

On page 109 Missouri reports that “In 1999, Missouri began collecting and distributing to local school districts student-level assessment data. This data is now available online and enables users to drill down from a district level to school level, class level, teacher level and student level results on assessments. Today, districts can access all prior assessment data and provide staff access through DESE’s on-line portal. RPDC (regional professional development centers) staff members have appropriate access to the information and provide training on how to access and use the information provided through the system.”

On that same page we learn that “in 2005 DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) implemented a system that assigns every student a unique ID [emphasis mine] that is used to collect the assessment data (MOSIS State Education ID).”

On page 121 Missouri promises to host a “data base accessible to researchers throughout the nation that for the first time links student performance, teaching practices and leadership decisions.” In the same vein Missouri is delving into pre kindergarten. On page 195 Missouri proposed an “early childhood system” with “comprehensive standards for curriculum, child assessment and program evaluation that are aligned from birth through third grade.”

On page 197 Missouri asked for federal assistance to “complete the building of the foundation of a modern interoperable, longitudinal data system that will support data-driven decision making for our schools and districts.” The push here was to implement a student identifier system and to “begin the conversion from aggregate data collections to individual records [emphasis mine].

Missouri proposed design and deployment of a “consolidated P-20 data warehouse that supports analysis and reporting from Pre-K through higher education and the workforce, with a functional query and reporting system usable by participating partners and the public.” That is the Show-Me Portal and it is discussed on page 126. For those worried about CCSS being too intrusive, Missouri’s data “horse” is already out of the proverbial barn; it has probably left county and could very well be in the next state already.

In conclusion, Missouri did not receive grant funding from their application. Not to worry. Text on page 199 confirms that Missouri will not abandon implementation of CCSS if RTTT funding is denied. It will just take a little longer.

Presented before Jackson School Board on July 10, 2013



Written by Leatherneck Blogger

July 16, 2013 at 10:58

Posted in Other

One Response

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  1. I so appreciate this systematic breakdown of what is actually happening! The language of Common Core and Race To The Top intimidates. This summary is clear, articulate and very helpful for those of us striving to understand a complex issue. Thank you to the author.


    July 17, 2013 at 14:35

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