September 1, 2015

Missouri seniors score better than national average on ACT scores

Missouri high school seniors beat the national average in all subjects on this year’s ACT.

Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter

“We held very steady at 21.6 from about 2005 to 2013. This year, we had a 21.7,” said Sarah Potter with the Department of Education. “We are happy to see a slight uptick. It’s still higher than the national average of 21.”

Potter said 71% of Missouri senior meth the benchmark in English, 51% in reading, 44% in math, and 42% in science; the area in which they scored the most poorly.

She said English continues to be the strongest subject for Missouri’s seniors.

“That really falls in line with what we are seeing on other assessments,” said Potter.

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Education

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Education

The best score possible on the ACT is a 36. Potter says even though Missouri seniors beat the national average, there’s still work to be done to move that average closer to 36.

“College career readiness is one of the major things we are focused on here at the Department of Education and across the state,” said Potter. “We have an initiative called ‘The Top 10 by 20 Initiative’. We want to be a top 10 state for education by 2020.”

Potter says more than 49,000 seniors in Missouri took the exam this year, an increase of 2% from last year. She says juniors will get the chance next year to take the test.


Mizzou experiences record-breaking enrollment

The University of Missouri is experiencing its highest enrollment on record. The student population has increased slightly from a year ago, surpassing 35,000 students for the first time.

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

The number of minority and international students on campus increased, with each group growing by about 100 students this fall.

The student body includes 27,589 undergraduates, 6,266 graduate students and 1,195 professional students. This year’s freshman class of 6,211 is the fourth-largest in school history.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin says recruiting is important, but so is retention.

“It’s a combination of many things, it’s financial, academic and social. So you have a variety of factors in here,” says Loftin. “We try to tackle all of those as best as we can.”

A record retention rate is credited as one of the factors in the growth. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin says retention is a major focus.

“We need to be better. We’re getting about 80%, on the average, of our freshmen returning for their sophomore year. It should be over 90,” says Loftin.

Fall classes at Mizzou started today.

Brad Tregnago of KSSZ contributed to this story.


Achievement tests show continued gap for minority, low-income Missouri students

The Missouri Department of Education has released testing results that show minority and low-income students scored 13% lower when compared to the performance for all students, statewide.

Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter

Spokeswoman Sarah Potter told Missourinet the achievement gap is a continuing issue in Missouri.

“In general, what we are seeing is that the achievement gap continues in this new set of data, as we’ve seen in the past. The gap gives us a metric by which to say this is an area where we really need to focus and we need to catch up,” said Potter.

Potter said curriculum reviews in struggling districts aim to close the achievement gap.

“Our staff at the department would actually take a close look and say this is where you really need to change some things to improve your curriculum. So, it’s things like that at the state level that we can do to support and help those local educators actually improve districts and help them close the gap.”

The assessment covered English, math, science, and social studies for grades three through eight.

The Department of Education released a week ago a report that revealed proficiency data for students in grades three through eight. The report said 60% of Missouri students are proficient in English, while only 28-52% of students are proficient in Math.

A new testing system was used this year for Missouri students, and the testing standards could be changed again next year.

Governor wants Legislature to support veto on A+ scholarships bill

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is asking the Legislature to uphold his veto of a bill that would revoke A+ scholarships from students because of their federal immigration status.  Nixon says it’s unfair to those students who have worked hard for the scholarships.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“I think it’s a mistake in policy to say to a student that while you’re in high school if you do all these hard things we’re gonna give you a scholarship and come back later on and take it away from them. It’s just a matter of fairness,” says Nixon.

Nixon says the state shouldn’t base Missouri students on their federal immigration status. The budget bill also included a provision to require public colleges and universities to charge those students their international tuition rate. The scholarship grants students two years tuition at any community college or technical school in Missouri.

The Legislature could try and override the Governor’s action during September’s veto session.

Missouri sex education to now include info on predators and sexting

Missouri’s public and charter schools who teach sexual education must now include information about sexting, sexual predators and online predators. The addition was signed into law last week by Governor Jay Nixon.

Representative Genise Montecillo (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Genise Montecillo (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill’s sponsor, St. Louis representative Genise Montecillo, hopes such education will make children safer from predators on the internet and cell phones.

“It’s just a huge door that’s been opened for them to get to our children in a much easier way, so hopefully we can get kids to understand that there is a risk,” Montecillo told Missourinet.

Missouri KidsFirst Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof says such education could avert many abuses.

“Kids that have been kind of struggling to find community and connection, they go online looking for entertainment and looking for friendship, and these kids are vulnerable,” said van Schenkhof. “They simply don’t have the capacity at that point, both the emotional maturity and the knowledge, about how you talk to people safely online.”

The bill received broad support throughout the legislative process. Montecillo said that was due, in part, to taking this provision out of earlier efforts to pass it as part of larger, more sweeping bills. She says once this language was offered on its own, it drew support from a broad spectrum of both conservative and liberal interests.

“This was an issue that there’s not a lot of disagreement. We want to protect our kids from pedophiles,” said Montecillo.

Some critics, though, say it doesn’t do enough to change Missouri’s laws regarding sex education.