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Staying Close to Home, Missouri Picks Deputy Commissioner as New K-12 Chief

The Missouri State Board of Education has chosen Margaret Vandeven, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's deputy commissioner at the Division of Learning Services, to be its next state education chief, replacing Chris Nicastro.

The state board picked Vandeven on Dec. 17 by a unanimous vote, after considering four other finalists for the position. All five of the finalists were working as district superintendents in Missouri. 

As deputy commissioner, Vandeven has overseen a wide variety of program areas, including "college- and career-readiness, special education, educator quality," and others. She is also responsible for coordinating the work of the seven assistant commissioners, according to a statement from the department. She's worked at the state department for the past nine years, and previously worked in private schools as an English/language arts teacher and an administrator.

Vandeven will take over as commissioner on Jan. 1.

State Board President Peter Herschend said he was confident that Vandeven would help the state achieve its "Top 10 by 20" mission of becoming one of the top 10 states in education by 2020. That mission includes a goal that 75 percent of students will score at least proficient on state assessments by 2020, and year-over-year increases of 2 percent in the share of children from birth to age 5 who receive health and developmental screenings.

"I stand ready to support our school districts and charter schools, working together to move Missouri into the top 10 in student performance," Vandeven said in an accompanying statement. 

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