An education researcher and author tells the State Board of Education how to make Missouri one of top ten in the nation.

Doug Reeves says Missouri schools — like many other states — are over tested and under assessed. And he says there need to be some major changes in one area — writing. He says there’s a lack of non-fiction writing early on, which leads to dropping grades in high school.

“We need to dramatically increase nonfiction writing whether or not it’s part of a state test,” he says.

He says all of the top ten states have state-required writing exams. He says in addition to writing assessment, schools need to require students to incorporate writing into other subjects, such as science, social studies, and mathematics.

He points to some states that have stopped using state-paid writing assessments as a cost savings device, but that doesn’t mean they should reduce their writing requirements at the classroom level.

There are two other main areas he wants the Missouri Department of Education to focus on.

“We need to continue to identify and maximize our best practices,” he says. “Missouri is already doing some things right, witness the increase math scores and the increase in high school graduation rate. We need to find out where that’s best and do more of it.”

“And we need to have teachers collaborate so that we have a common definition of what proficiency is.”

View Reeves presentation (PDF).

The Department of Education states its goal thusly:

The year is 2020. Student performance in the state—in every district and in every school—is among the top 10 states in the nation.

Fully three quarters of our children are proficient on state standards for what we agreed they should know and be able to do.

The number of high school graduates is approaching 100 percent, and the number of these going on to post-secondary education has doubled in the past decade.

Businesses throughout the country and world are seeking out locations in Missouri because of our reputation for a world-class work force.

Missouri is proud—of its children and of its schools.

Everyone agrees that Missouri public schools are the best choice, and that they produce the best results!

Reeves says all of the Top Ten states have annual state-required writing exams. Although many Bottom Ten states also have writing exams, an important difference is that many of the Top Ten states:

Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Bottom ten: Georgia, Hawaii, New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, California, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona

Missouri ranks about in the middle of the nation in its test scores.