A+


Al West A+ Coordinator at awest@kingsville.k12.mo.us Angie Collens A+ Secretary at acollens@kingsville.k12.mo.us


A+ APPLICATION



A+ Administrative Rule Updated

In September, the Missouri Department of Higher Education began the process to amend the administrative rule for the A+ Scholarship (6 CSR 10-2.190). The six amendments resulted from statutory changes made during the 2016 legislative session, questions posed by members of the A+ community that required regulatory guidance to ensure consistent program administration, and the need for policy clarification. The rulemaking process is now complete and the amendments became effective March 30, 2017.

Two of the six amendments stem from the enactment of Senate Bill 638 (2016):

· Addition of the definition of an A+ Designated High School as one that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has determined meets the designation requirements and has been approved by the State Board of Education. This change reflects the expansion of the A+ Scholarship Program to include non-public high schools.

· Expansion of the good citizenship requirement to include consideration of a student’s participation in the Constitution Project of Missouri.

Another two amendments resulted from questions posed by the A+ community:

· Addition of the definition of an eligible program as one that leads to a certificate or degree, and meets the federal Title IV financial aid requirements or is a prerequisite for a program meeting the federal requirements.

· Clarification of the definition of Federal Sources of Funding to exclude campus based aid. As a result of this amendment, the A+ award does not have to be reduced by any campus-based aid a student receives regardless of the source of the funds. However, it still must be reduced by other aid the federal government makes directly available to the student, primarily the Pell grant.

The final two amendments clarified or codified existing policy:

· Direct incorporation of all statutory high school eligibility criteria into the administrative rule. Previously, some of the statutory criteria were directly incorporated while others were incorporated only by reference to the statute. This change also codifies MDHE’s guidance that to meet the statutory three-year attendance requirement, a student’s enrollment at all A+ designated high schools attended during the three-year period immediately prior to graduation must total a minimum of 80% of the instructional days required by the high school. Interruptions in enrollment, either consecutive or concurrent, may cumulatively total no more than 20 percent of the instructional days in the three-year period immediately prior to graduation.

· Addition of MDHE’s standard disbursement and delivery policy, which specifies awards will be sent to the institution to be delivered to the student’s account, and the institution will retain the portion owed for expenses and promptly give the student any remaining funds.

As a reminder, the rulemaking process for these amendments began shortly after other changes became effective on July 31, 2016. Those amendments, which were summarized in a message dated Aug. 1, 2016, included:

· Amendment of the definition of Full-Time Student to specify if the institution has a higher threshold for full-time enrollment than the 12 hours (6 for summer) provided in the rule, the student must meet the institutional definition.

· Addition of the definition of Positive Net Disbursement, which results when a student’s disbursement(s) less returned funds for a term is greater than zero. This definition was needed because the completion requirement (see next bullet) only applies to students with a positive net disbursement.

· Addition of the requirement that all students complete a minimum of 12 hours for the fall or spring terms, or 6 hours for summer, to be eligible for the next term. Students enrolled in clock hour programs must complete 90% of the clock hours required for the federal payment period.

· Addition of the requirement that initial students have a 2.0 cumulative grade point average at the end of the fall semester to be eligible for spring.

· Revision of the citizenship requirement to specify a student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify. This change resulted from the enactment of Senate Bill 224 (2015).

· Clarification that the 50 hour tutoring/mentoring requirement must be completed prior to graduation, except a high school’s policy may allow students to complete the requirement up to six months beyond graduation in exceptional circumstances reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

· Amendment of the Algebra I end-of-course exam policy to remove references to specific exams, providing MDHE flexibility in setting the acceptable alternatives for students who do not score proficient or advanced on the Algebra I EOC.

· Clarification that good citizenship must be maintained in grades 9-12 to meet the requirement that the student maintain a record of good citizenship and avoidance of the unlawful use of drugs and/or alcohol.

The amended A+ Scholarship administrative rule (6 CSR 10-2.190 on page 24), with all of the changes listed above, is located on the Secretary of State’s website. If you have any questions about any of these amendments, please contact:

Connie Bestgen, financial aid specialist

800-473-6757, option 4, 573-751-1772, or connie.bestgen@dhe.mo.gov

A+ Alternative to the Algebra I EOC Requirement for 2018 Seniors

Each spring, during A+ students’ junior year, the Missouri Department of Higher Education announces the alternative(s) available for those who do not achieve a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I end-of-course exam. This announcement allows the juniors sufficient time to establish eligibility before graduation. In keeping with this policy, this message provides information about the Algebra I EOC alternative for the 2017 juniors in the graduating class of 2018.

The 2018 high school seniors who do not achieve a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I EOC, or a higher level math EOC approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, must have a combined ACT math score and high school GPA in accordance with the following scale:

ACT Math Score High School GPA

17 or greater and 2.5 or greater

16 and 2.8 or greater

15 and 3.0 or greater

This scale reflects placement practices in use by some institutions. It also recognizes that student success may be predicted by more than a single test score.

Although the COMPASS exam has historically been an alternative to the Algebra I EOC requirement, that exam is not an option for the 2018 seniors as a result of ACT’s complete phase-out of the exam in November 2016. Since it is extremely difficult to accurately equate a placement exam score with a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I EOC, the COMPASS exam will not be replaced with other placement exams, such as Accuplacer, as an alternative to the A+ Algebra I EOC requirement. As a result, the ACT math/high school GPA scale is the only alternative to the Algebra I EOC requirement available to the 2018 seniors. In addition, it is the only path to eligibility for the majority of private high school students who do not have access to the state’s end-of-course exams.

The scale only applies to students who do not have a qualifying score on the Algebra I EOC, or a higher level math EOC approved by DESE. This means students who have achieved a qualifying EOC score are not required to meet the alternative scale’s criteria, although they still must meet the program’s requisite minimum 2.5 GPA. This includes private high school students that transferred from a public high school after receiving a qualifying score on the Algebra I, or a higher level math, EOC.

The Algebra I EOC alternatives available for the 2017 seniors are available on MDHE’s website, which has also been updated with the information above for the 2018 seniors. The alternative(s) for the 2019 seniors will be announced in spring 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Connie Bestgen, financial aid specialist

800-473-6757, option 4, 573-751-1772, or connie.bestgen@dhe.mo.gov

Amy Haller, financial aid specialist

573-526-7958 or amy.haller@dhe.mo.gov

Kelli Reed, student assistance associate

573-751-2444 or kelli.reed@dhe.mo.gov