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The first of a series of reports on higher education equity in Missouri is expected in October, and other priorities of the state's education agencies include having a reliable pipeline of teacher candidates and serving adult education and workforce development needs.

Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education and State Board of Education for grades K-12 held their annual joint meeting Tuesday at Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach.

Angelette Prichett, director of academic programs and initiatives for the Missouri Department of Higher Education, said a report on students' access to and progress at the state's colleges and universities will be made public during a summit in Columbia on education equity planned for October.

Future reports over the next three years will also include looks at the affordability of higher education and accountability to the state's goals of raising students' college completion rates — specific to race, ethnicity, gender, disability and socioeconomic statuses — by 50 percent by 2025.

Prichett said "it's also equally important" to point out what's going right and what efforts or programs could be supported on a statewide level.

Kathryn Chval, dean of the University of Missouri's College of Education, said enrollment at MU's College of Education has increased 43 percent compared to July of last year.

She and Paul Katnik — the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's assistant commissioner in the Office of Educator Quality — talked about the national problem of not having enough teachers, especially non-white and male teachers.

Katnik said the increase in enrollment at MU's education college is hopefully what will be seen across the state, given significant declines in teacher program enrollment in recent years.

"It's our goal to have a grow-your-own program in every single high school in the state," Katnik added.

In terms of adult education, Director of Workforce Development Mardy Leathers' report to the state education boards included that the growth in Missouri's apprenticeship programs is the second largest in the nation, behind only the state of California.

Among 14,862 active apprentices in the state, he said, 8,244 have been registered since Oct. 1, 2018.

Missouri's total number of active apprentices ranks sixth in the United States, he said.

Becky Dunn, assistant commissioner for strategic communications with the Department of Higher Education, said the application and outreach efforts for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program will launch Aug. 5.

Gov. Mike Parson signed Fast Track into law July 10 with the intention of enabling more adults in Missouri to go back to school to gain certificates or degrees that will help them be more competitive in the workforce.

The goal is for 60 percent of working-age adults to have a high-quality certificate or degree by 2025, according to the description of the program on the Department of Higher Education's website.

There are age, education-level, and income requirements and restrictions for the program. More information is available at dhe.mo.gov/initiatives/fast_track.php.

Dunn said appropriations for the program this year are only enough to cover public institutions.

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