Third-Grade Reading and Assistant Teacher Pay-Raise Bills Move to Senate

You are terrific!

Both the third-grade reading gate bill and the assistant teacher pay-raise bill were moved forward today. They will now go to the Senate for debate. It is likely that the final bill we were watching, the bill to move from average daily attendance to average enrollment for the MAEP calculation, will be moved forward on Monday. 

Please join me in thanking Chairman Moore and Speaker Gunn for allowing these bills to move to the Senate. Be sure to thank the legislators who supported these bills, as well. You can see their votes below.

The reading gate bill, HB 745, holds harmless this year’s third-graders for the first-year results of a new high-stakes reading test. Without this bill, thousands of Mississippi third-graders would be held back based solely on a standardized test that has never before been administered, regardless of how they have performed on other assessments or coursework throughout the year. This bill does not do away with the reading gate, it simply gives the MDE one year to work out any bugs and ensure that there are no unintended consequences associated with this high-stakes test, the passing score for which can’t even be set until after the children take it the first time. The bill says that, for this year only, low-scoring students may be allowed to progress to the fourth grade but must be given the intensive interventions they need to become proficient readers. 

We will need your help to get this bill passed in the Senate.

See below the outcomes of the bills we are tracking

HB 156 – Separates the state and federal accountability models and revises the name of the state standards. Passed the House.See vote.

HB 394 – Provides state-funded vouchers for children with special needs to pay tuition at unaccountable private academies that are not required to offer special services or accommodations. Died on calendar.

HB 449 – Prohibits school personnel from contacting legislators during the school day and prohibits school board members and superintendents from political activity on school or personal time or property, including influencing legislators on education policy. Carries a $10,000 fine. Died on calendar.

HB 471 – Provides for use of Average Daily Membership (enrollment) rather than Average Daily Attendance to determine MAEP funding. Requires that schools whose attendance is less than 94.5% of reported enrollment, based upon an auditor count, be funded based on Average Daily Attendance. Passed the House. See vote. Held on a motion to reconsider. We are hopeful that Chairman Moore will table the motion to reconsider and let the bill move forward on Monday.

HB 479 – Reduces funding for the at-risk portion of the MAEP by basing it on standardized test scores rather than poverty. Died on calendar.

HB 488 – Uses state funding to pay tuition for dyslexia therapists to get training and teach in private special purpose schools. Passed the House. See vote.

HB 582 – Increases the minimum annual salary paid to assistant teachers by $2,500 to a minimum salary of $15,000 per year. Passed the House. See vote. 

HB 745 – Gives this year’s third-graders a reprieve from the consequences of a new high-stakes reading test the first time it is administered, and provides low-scoring students intensive remediation to bring them to reading proficiency. Passed the House. See amendment vote.

HB 814 – The Special Education Improvement Act of 2015 provides an autism coordinator at MDE, creates a separate line item in the education budget to fund only special education, and establishes a fund to provide additional services for children in public, private or home schools. Died on calendar.

HB 861 – Allows public school districts or schools the flexibility to implement innovations. See vote.

SB 2302 – Gives additional $5,000 supplement to National Board Certified Teachers and Teaching Fellows program participants who teach in geographic critical shortage areas. Passed the Senate. See vote.

SB 2329 – Allows home-schooled children to participate in extra-curricular activities in public schools without adhering to the same academic requirements public school students must meet. Defeated by Senate. See vote.

SB 2695 – Provides vouchers for children with special needs to pay tuition at private schools that are not required to provide special education services. Passed the Senate. See amendment vote. See voucher bill vote.

Click here to get more information about these bills.

Next week begins the second half of the session, in which each chamber will consider the other chamber’s bills. We are going to need your help in this round, too!

It truly is inspiring to have thousands of folks all across the state who are working tirelessly to ensure that Mississippi children have a strong public education system. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing efforts!

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