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Missouri High-Poverty Schools Get Low Marks

Lauren Manning

In the next six months, state education officials will be poring over recently released data on whether students in high-poverty schools are getting the same quality of teaching as kids in low-poverty schools.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released something it calls Education Equity Profiles for all 50 states. They compare teacher data in high-poverty and high-minority schools with teacher data in low-poverty and low-minority schools.

Missouri fares worse than many other states.

For example, the data shows, the number of teachers in high-poverty schools in Missouri who are not highly qualified  — or teachers who are not certified in their subject matter — is 7.9 percent.

In Kansas, the figure is 2.4 percent.

Also, the number of Missouri teachers in high-poverty schools with no certification or license at all is 7 percent while in Kansas it's 2.3 percent.

“Is the learning experience for every kid equal in our state? And most people even without looking at data would say maybe not. Maybe it’s not,” says Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Another demerit: The number of first-year teachers in high poverty schools in Missouri is high.

The data shows that 9.3 percent are in their first year. In Kansas the figure is 6.4 percent.

Katnik says states just got the federal data in November, so DESE is just now beginning to go over  it.

“But right now we’re looking at a set of data and seeing what it might mean,” Katnik says.

DESE will be studying the data and meeting with stakeholders over the next six months to produce an action plan for the federal government on how to better equalize the classroom experience for all students.

All states must submit their plans by June 1.

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