Bill seeks to amend performance assessments for Missouri schools

February 02, 2024



JEFFERSON CITY — A proposal to change the metrics used to assess student performance in Missouri public schools was heard Wednesday by the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Haffner, R-Pleasant Hill, aims to simplify what the state’s Annual Performance Reports (APRs) look like by putting a sole focus on student achievement and growth.

APRs are used to inform the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by measuring standardized tests, attendance and other metrics for purposes of accreditation and classification.

Under the latest iteration of the Missouri School Improvement Program, or MSIP 6, student achievement and growth combine for 48% of the total score that makes up APRs. Haffner’s bill would increase the percentage to 50% each for elementary schools, while for secondary schools, 60% would account for college readiness and student growth and 40% for achievement.

In essence, Haffner’s bill will do away entirely with the continuous improvement score that makes up 30% of APRs.

Haffner said achievement and growth are metrics that have become the “national norm” and that Missouri is an “outlier” by not focusing on them.

“We need to be measuring what actually matters,” Haffner said.

The education department defines student growth as a “change in academic achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time.” The focus is not placed on improvement from one achievement level to another but on improvement within levels, according to the department.

When asked by committee members, Haffner defined student growth as “measuring one student through two periods of time.”

Haffner also wants to simplify what APRs look like on the department’s website. He said when he first moved to Missouri, it took him three days to find performance indicators for his children’s schools.

“It should be accessible. It should be readily available. It should be transparent to parents,” Haffner said.

But when Rep. Kathy Steinhoff, D-Columbia, asked Haffner what he envisions a school district report card would look like on a website under his legislation, Haffner said differences of opinion among stakeholders convinced him to leave it out of the bill to provide for more flexibility.

Steinhoff expressed concern with the idea of reducing APRs to two broad metrics.

“I feel like we’re taking all of that data that can be very useful to a parent to interpret how their school is doing and bringing it down to one score,” Steinhoff said.

“We’re not saying that they can’t provide that information,” Haffner replied. “What we’re saying, put a concise statement on there as to what really matters to student achievement and their growth.”

“I just believe all of those things matter,” Steinhoff said.

“I do, too,” Haffner replied. “I agree with you.”

Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, the committee chair, said part of the issue for school officials is understanding how the department determines growth.

“The better we can simplify that so everybody understands how we define it, I think will be a step in the right direction,” Pollitt said.