Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon recently signed Senate Bill 638, legislation that would, among other provisions, allow nonpublic high schools to apply to the State Board of Education to be certified as A+ Schools.
Private and parochial high schools would have to meet the same requirements that apply to public high schools to be certified A+ Schools. The A+ scholarship program, which under Nixon has expanded to include nearly every public high school in Missouri, enables qualified students to attend one of the state’s public community colleges by covering the cost of tuition for two years.
MCC Chancellor Mark James said: “I am pleased that we can now offer the same educational opportunities to high school students who attend nonpublic schools and demonstrate hard work and dedication to meet A+ requirements. The A+ program offers such a tremendous opportunity to Missouri students, allowing them to earn part of their undergraduate education for free. I am more than thrilled to expand these efforts to even more students.”
The A+ program allows qualified high school graduates to attend community college in Missouri without paying tuition and fees. Among other criteria, they must have at least a 2.5 GPA and a 95 percent attendance record, and they must spend at least 50 hours tutoring or mentoring other students.
At MCC, more than 24,000 students have received A+ scholarship funds since 2005. In 2015-16, 3,797 A+ students were enrolled at MCC.
For more information about the A+ program, visit MCC’s financial aid webpage, mcckc.edu/financialaid/aplus/.
In addition to expanding the A+ program, Senate Bill 638 also includes a number of provisions:
- Allowing Missouri to establish a Quality Rating System for early childhood education providers serving children ages birth to kindergarten. The new Quality Rating System will be developed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in collaboration with Missouri Head Start, and the Missouri Departments of Mental Health, Social Services, and Health and Senior Services. The rating system may include information about an early learning provider’s staff qualifications, safety standards, professional development, community involvement, instructional quality, and parental engagement. Participation in the Quality Rating System is voluntary. Without this legislation, Missouri remained the only state in the nation that prohibited the establishment of a Quality Rating System for early learning providers. As a result, the state has not been able to apply for federal grants that could provide the funding to expand early learning opportunities in the state.
- Establishing the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, and directing the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education to develop guidelines for the screening of students with dyslexia and related disorders and for the classroom support of such students.
- Requiring school districts to implement a system for identifying students in the ninth grade or students who transfer into the district after the ninth grade who are “at risk of not being ready for college-level work for entry-level career positions.” Districts are required to provide academic and career counseling to these students in an attempt to prepare them to be college or career-ready upon graduation.
- Adding American Civics to the current testing requirements for students receiving a certificate of graduation from public and private high schools in Missouri.
- Enhancing the academic and financial standards required of charter schools.