This page is designed to provide historical information regarding the MDHE's Curriculum Alignment Initiative (CAI).

Drivers for the CAI

The work of the CAI is part of MDHE strategy to increase participation in higher education and to smooth pathways for students entering into and progressing in higher education. The goal is of this work is to improve the college readiness of students throughout Missouri, by clearly articulating to high school students what it means to be college ready, and to smooth transfer of entry-level collegiate courses. CAI is mandated by Senate Bill 389 (2007) and directs public colleges and universities to work with the CBHE to develop entry- and exit-level competencies for entry level collegiate coursework. CAI was also driven by the work of the Missouri METS Coalition, as well as the P-20 Council and the Director of Education and Workforce Innovation.


The CAI focuses on seven core areas: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, English and Communications, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Science, and Social Sciences. Educators from across the state in each of these areas worked in discipline workgroups to develop the entry- and exit- competencies. The postsecondary faculty are joined in this work by K-12 Advisors. There were over 400 volunteers who collaborated to develop more than 800 individual competencies across the seven core areas. The seven discipline workgroups were directed by the Curriculum Alignment Steering Committee (CAS) which is comprised of discipline workgroup representatives and K-12 administrators, Post-Secondary administrators, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff, and MDHE staff.

Participant lists are included here:


Curriculum Alignment Steering Committee (CAS)

The CAS, made up of representatives from the postsecondary and secondary sectors, as well as liaisons from each of the discipline workgroups, serves to coordinate and ensure successful completion of this crucial work, in addition to raising awareness and building support in Missouri higher education. CAS is charged with the coordination of the work of the seven discipline workgroups, feedback and assistance in integrating the competencies documents once completed, identifying policies and procedures in insure implementation, and to communicate and liaise with constituent groups.

Discipline Workgroups

At the discipline workgroup level, the discipline workgroups are charged with working to articulate competencies for entry into college-level coursework, as well as for exit from beginning collegiate level coursework (see below for a definition of entry- and exit-level competencies). The goals of the discipline workgroups are twofold: to define the threshold for access to collegiate-level work based on the competencies that provide a reasonable chance for success; and to define the body of knowledge a student should know upon exit from a beginning collegiate-level course, to aid in both transfer of credit as well as transfer of the body of knowledge.

The competencies addressed by the discipline workgroup include:

Entry-Level Competencies: Entry-level competences refer to defining the knowledge and skills necessary for students to begin gaining access to collegiate-level work. The goal is to set clear expectations about what a student should know in order to be prepared to be successful in postsecondary coursework, and is separate from the admissions standards of individual institutions. The entry-level competencies draft documents will be divided into broad discipline areas that correspond with the discipline workgroups: Mathematics, Science English & Communications, Social Sciences, Foreign Languages, Arts & Humanities, and Engineering & Technology.

The level of specificity and content standards will be related to several factors, including but not limited to: the hierarchical nature of the subject area; the variation across institutions as to how each discipline area is approached in higher education; and with the advent of Missouri high school required end-of-course exams, the content it will be reasonable to assume that a student will have covered over the course of their high school career.

Exit-Level Competencies: Exit-level competencies refer to defining the knowledge and skills that a student is expected to have gained as a result of successfully completing an entry-level general education course at the postsecondary level; these competencies are course-based. The goal is to facilitate transfer, both in the actual transcription of credit as well as create a definable body of knowledge that a student will carry with them as they move from one institution to another.

The Curriculum Alignment Steering Committee (CAS) decided that, in order to fulfill the mandate set forth in SB 389, that an initial prioritized list of courses would be targeted for completion. Priority for included courses will be based on the hierarchical nature of courses within a particular discipline area first, and then upon the course considered to have the greatest number of students enrolling as entering freshman students. Additional work will be done to expand the courses for which exit competencies are articulated.

The workgroups include representation from across the educational levels, sectors, and institutional types. The workgroups use a number of source documents to inform discussion and aid in development of competencies, including ACT standards, Standards for Success (used by the College Board), Course Level Expectations from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and competencies documents specific to their fields. Workgroups have been meeting since the end of July, and utilize both face-to-face meetings as well as a number of electronic methods to facilitate completion of tasks.