The State Board of Education adopted an emergency rule this week and proposed a rule through the normal order of rulemaking to address attendance hour reporting and requirements.
The SBOE voted to expand the Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) that was recently passed by the Missouri General Assembly and create Alternative Methods of Instruction-Extended Plans (AMI-X) which would be submitted to and approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The AMI-X plans would allow school districts if they so choose, to have modified schedules for students. This “Fixed Blended Instruction” schedule would require students to be onsite two full days per week. The AMI-X plans also allow for distance learning for other scenarios, such if a student or group of students are quarantined. DESE will calculate attendance for these districts by using the individual student onsite rate for the year.
Under the rule adopted by the SBOE, hours that are associated with distance learning as part of an AMI-X plan would be counted as instruction hours for calculating minimum calendar requirements as well.
Waive attendance as performance indicator
The SBOE also voted to waive attendance from being used for accountability purposes under MSIP-5 for the 2020-21 school year to encourage parents to keep their children home when they feel ill and alleviate excess pressure to attend school when it is not advisable.
In a press conference with Gov. Mike Parson earlier in the week, Commissioner Margie Vandeven mentioned new assessments at the beginning of the school year and indicated that the department will continue to push ahead with testing at the end of the year. More than 70 percent of MSTA members that responded to a recent MSTA survey regarding COVID-19 think state testing should be eliminated for the 2020-21 school year in order to make up for lost time from the 2019-20 school year.
The costs associated with the new assessment would come from federal dollars passed by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Other items the governor announced would be covered by federal money include:
- $10 million to increase school campus Wi-Fi and student access.
- $20 million to support schools to provide additional devices.
- $10 million for a turnkey assessment tool to measure where students are at upon returning to school.
- $7 million for transportation related to meal delivery during the 2019-20 school year.
- $7.5 million to districts for PPE, cleaning and other medical supplies.
School districts would need to apply for these funds through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Last week, Gov. Parson announced $448 million in restrictions from the budget passed by the legislature. This includes a withhold of $123 million from the foundation formula.