JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has rejected tough new evaluation standards for school principals and administrators.
The House voted 82-76 to defeat the measure Wednesday, one of Republican House Speaker Tim Jones' top education priorities.
This marks the second defeat of legislation to impose evaluations based largely on student achievement. Previous versions of the bill would have subjected teachers to the evaluation standards, but that provision was removed from this bill in an effort to pass the measure.
The evaluations would have started in the 2014-15 academic year and would've included multiple measures and be conducted at least annually. School personnel would have been classified on a four-point scale ranging from highly effective to ineffective.
The new Common Core education standards are meeting local resistance before they've even been implemented in Missouri.
About 150 people in the Lindbergh School District attended an informational meeting held last night. But the state education official was heckled while she tried to explain the new standards. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Maureen Clancy-May was met with calls to "tell the truth" and questions about using kids as a science experiment.
Missouri is one of 45 states that have adopted the Common Core standard, a set of national goals for reading, writing and math skills.
Many at last night's meeting wanted to know why the state Legislature wasn't involved in the decision to adopt the standard.
Legislatures in several states, including Missouri, are now debating a repeal.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri education officials are having statewide meetings to talk to the public about a new uniform set of benchmarks for math, reading and writing.
The gatherings will get started at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Florissant, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Marceline, Camdenton, Warrensburg and Kansas City.
The new Common Core standards replace a hodgepodge of educational goals that varied wildly from state to state. The federal government was not involved in the state-led effort to develop them but has encouraged the project.
The only states not to adopt the standards are Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia. Minnesota adopted the reading but not the math standards.
Backers say they will better prepare students for college and careers. But critics worry they'll be costly to implement and nationalize public schools.
Cuts in the classroom are coming to the East St. Louis School District. Teachers layoffs were announced during Thursday night's packed school board meeting.
In all, 69 teachers in District 189 will lose their jobs. Five elementary school principals and two middle school principals will also be cut.
East St. Louis is just the latest in a long list of metro-east school districts forced to make the cuts because of state and local budget issues.
But the budget proposed by Governor Pat Quinn would cut education spending by more than $300 million.
Many Illinois school districts are already operating on deficits after the state failed to fully fund its obligations for the past two years. Virtually every metro-east district is laying off teachers in anticipation of less state funding next year. Some are cutting sports programs and closing schools.
St. Clair County schools superintendent Susan Sarfaty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "Districts are no longer cutting fat from their budgets — they’re cutting bone." Sarfaty says "there's no more fat to cut."
Health officials say the new number doesn't mean autism is occurring more often. But it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.
The earlier government estimate of 1 in 88 comes from a study that many consider more rigorous. It looks at medical and school records instead of relying on parents.
For decades, autism meant kids with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions.
The new estimate released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least 1 million children have autism.
The number is important — government officials look at how common each illness or disorder is when weighing how to spend limited public health funds.
It's also controversial.
The new statistic comes from a national phone survey of more than 95,000 parents in 2011 and 2012. Less than a quarter of the parents contacted agreed to answer questions, and it's likely that those with autistic kids were more interested than other parents in participating in a survey on children's health, CDC officials said.
Still, CDC officials believe the survey provides a valid snapshot of how many families are affected by autism, said Stephen Blumberg, the CDC report's lead author.
The study that came up with the 1-in-88 estimate had its own limitations. It focused on 14 states, only on children 8 years old, and the data came from 2008. Updated figures based on medical and school records are expected next year.
"We've been underestimating" how common autism is, said Michael Rosanoff of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group. He believes the figure is at least 1 in 50.
There are no blood or biologic tests for autism, so diagnosis is not an exact science. It's identified by making judgments about a child's behavior.
Doctors have been looking for autism at younger and younger ages, and experts have tended to believe most diagnoses are made in children by age 8.
However, the new study found significant proportions of children were diagnosed at older ages.
Dr. Roula Choueiri, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said she's seen that happening at her clinic. Those kids "tend to be the mild ones, who may have had some speech delays, some social difficulties," she wrote in an email. But they have more problems as school becomes more demanding and social situations grow more complex, she added.
District 118 will lay off six teachers and 20 staff members. The state of Illinois owes the district nearly two-million dollars.
In Highland, several teachers are being let go, but the specifics haven't been released.
Earlier this week, officials with Belleville District 201 and the Collinsville School District announced layoffs.
The national standards define the skills and knowledge students should have. And proponents say Missouri students need Common Core in order to stay competitive with students from 45 other states that have adopted them.
But some state lawmakers are balking, claiming that the move to Common Core will give federal education officials too much control over local schools. Senator John Lamping co-sponsored a bill to repeal Common Core in Missouri. The Ladue Republican has accused federal education officials of coercion. He and other opponents have also questioned the cost of implementation, since the standards call for computerized testing.
The State's Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says the new standards only outline what students should know, not how schools and teachers should go about teaching, because Common Core doesn't dictate curriculum.
Both Missouri and Illinois adopted the standards in 2010. Illinois will achieve full implementation in the 2013-14 school year, a full year ahead of the Show-me state.
The Chicago Democrat will propose slashing $400 million from education in the fiscal year that starts July 1. It also will pin the blame for the cuts on lawmakers' failure to fix the state's worst-in-the-nation pension problem.
The automatic fund transfers include more than $2 billion in spending that Quinn's aides describe as "on autopilot." The amount those programs receive is set in state statute. Trying to cut it is likely to cause a contentious debate.
Quinn's proposed budget also attempts to pay down $2 billion in unpaid bills.
St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams has said he will make several proposals at the 6 p.m. meeting of the special administrative board. Among his proposals, Dr. Adams is expected to recommend that some schools close next year and other be phased out as a cost-cutting measure.
Dr. Adams says several factors, including academic performance, would be considered in deciding which, if any, schools would close.
There has been wide-spread speculation that the Cleveland NJROTC Academy would be phased out, accepting no new freshmen after this year.
Wednesday’s Special Administrative Board meeting is at 6:00 p.m. at 801 North 11th Street.