Standards for Schools Get Strong Backing Would Boost Achievement, Many Say at Hearing

Article excerpt

Missouri's proposed academic standards for public school students represent a big step forward, says Beth Reynolds, Missouri's teacher of the year.

"The proposed standards describe not only what students should know but also what they should be able to do," said Reynolds, a teacher in the Kirkwood School District.

An overwhelming number of the 300 people who attended a public hearing on the standards in St. Ann Thursday night agreed with Reynolds. They said the standards would raise the level of academic achievement while letting local districts control curriculum.

But some people at the meeting objected to the standards as vague and detrimental to student achievement.

The comments were made in a three-hour hearing at Holman Middle School, 11055 St. Charles Rock Road. It was one of seven held Thursday around the state on the proposed standards.

The standards, required by state law, were developed by teachers, parents and business people. They are supposed to define the knowledge and skills that Missouri students need to graduate from high school.

The state School Board gave the standards first-round approval in October. Final approval could come as soon as the board's meeting Jan. 19, said Gary Cunningham, a member of the state school board and moderator of Thursday's hearing in St. Ann.

If approved, the standards could take effect next fall. But a decision on how to assess students' performance could be a year away, Cunningham said. …