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Missouri Chamber supports bill to narrow skills gap by increasing access to advanced level high school courses online

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Many Missouri schools – especially rural schools and districts with difficult working conditions – are struggling to find teachers to cover math, science and advanced placement courses. The result: Missouri students are not getting the education they deserve or the skills they need to function in today’s workforce.

Missouri’s virtual instruction program (MOVIP) was established in 2007 and set aside $5 million annually to address teacher shortages and course gaps. However, since that time, funding has been cut. Today there is only funding available to students with certain medical conditions.

That’s about to change under legislation sponsored by Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Wentzville Republican lawmaker and former public school teacher. He has sponsored House Bill 138, which has been approved by the Missouri House on a vote of 124-31.

Rebranded as the “Missouri Course Access Program (MCAP),” the bill would allow public school students to enroll in MCAP courses to be funded by the school district. The course must be approved by the school counselor.

“All students deserve access to advanced level courses that will better prepare them for college and the workforce,” said Ryan Stauffer, Missouri Chamber director of workforce and education policy. “Across Missouri, too few students are enrolling in these courses. During the 2015-1016 school year, 63 percent of school districts did not have a single student enrolled in an advanced placement class. House Bill 138 would allow students who do not currently have access to these high-level courses to enroll in these classes online.”

The legislation was supported during committee testimony from both the business community and education groups such as the Missouri School Boards Association and the Missouri National Education Association.

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