Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Missouri education bill looking to improve reading, sub shortages, student outcomes


QUINCY (WGEM) – A wide-ranging Missouri K-12 education bill on the verge of becoming law.

Sponsored by Republican Senator Cindy O’Laughlin of Shelbina, numerous section of Senate Bill 681 are dedicated to creating different ways for students to graduate, get a high school diploma or get career technical education opportunities while still in school.

One of programs is the Workforce Diploma Program which would allows schools to hire educators to teach special classes or programs like trade or a work-based skills.

She said this gives the schools more freedom for their curriculum and prepare students for life outside of the classroom.

“If you look around in your communities, you see that we just have a need in every area and it gives kids more options,” O’Laughlin said. “Not every student is going to go onto a four year college nor do they need to and there’s a lot of ways to start a career.”

The bill also looks to address the substitute teacher shortage as well. It creates a four year certificate for people wanting to substitute teach. It would also allow retired teachers that have a substitute certification to substitute teach part-time or as a temporary substitute and not have those hours and salary affect their retirement allowance up until June 30, 2025.

The measure also establishes a number of mechanism to improve reading and literacy, including the creation of a comprehensive system of services for reading instruction and requirements for testing and intervention when necessary.

Officials at the North Shelby School District said anything that can be done to help students read and communicate better is a good thing.

Superintendent Kim Gaines said their school district has a similar program which identifies students struggling with reading skills and works to get them caught up.

Gaines said the bill could streamline the process and make sure new teachers have the necessary skills.

“I think they’re going to be addressing reading instruction at the post secondary level so in college, students who are wanting to enter the teaching profession, making certain they know how to teach reading,” Gaines said.

O’Laughlin said schools would send the state reading and literacy data so schools with struggling students can be identified and resources can given where they’re needed.

Gaines said she is concerned about the amount of bureaucracy created and said complexity might make it hard for districts to implement.

The measure is still awaiting Governor Mike Parson’s signature. O’Laughlin said she expects him to sign it into law within the next couple of weeks.

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