The House and Senate have taken final action on one of the bills we have been watching. Several remain on the calendar; the deadline for an initial vote is tomorrow.
Still awaiting action
Charter Schools – SB 2300. The conference report would allow open enrollment within counties. This provision would permit students, even those in districts rated A, B, or C, to cross district lines to attend charter schools. State and local funding would follow the student. The Parents’ Campaign opposes this provision, as we believe charter schools should be restricted to students in chronically low-performing school districts. Ask your legislators to vote to RECOMMIT the conference report for SB 2300 to remove the open enrollment provision.
School Funding – HB 434. The budget transfer bill provides a vehicle through which more funding could be added to the MAEP. The conference report does not provide any additional funding for K-12 education. Ask your legislators to RECOMMIT the conference report for HB 434 to increase MAEP funding.
MAEP Formula – HB 471. Changes the MAEP formula to use average daily membership (ADM, or enrollment), rather than attendance (ADA) in its calculation unless a district’s average daily attendance drops below 94.5 percent, in which case ADA will still be used. The conference report changes the requirement for a student to be counted present to 60 percent of the normal school day, a move away from the draconian “63 percent of the instructional day” rule. Passed today by the House, remains on Senate calendar. Ask your senator to vote YES on the conference report for HB 471.
Find contact information for all of the legislators who represent your school district here.
Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770
Speaker Philip Gunn Capitol: 601.359.3300
Lt. Governor Reeves Capitol: 601.359.3200
Passed both chambers
Common Core State Standards – SB 2161. The conference report establishes a commission to make recommendations regarding state education standards to the State Board of Education (SBE) and removes the requirement that the SBE adopt at least 75 percent of the recommendations. Other provisions in the conference report: School districts will not be required to administer the PARCC assessment after the current school year, and the high school subject area tests will still be administered but will not be required for graduation. (The SBE is considering a policy that would require the student’s score on the subject area tests to constitute 25 percent of the student’s final course grade in Algebra I, Biology I, English II, and U.S. History. Read more here.) The conference report for SB 2161 was passed by both chambers and is on its way to the governor for his signature.
Update on Literacy-Based Promotion Act
While the House passed a bill that would have provided an additional exemption for students with special needs and delayed the implementation of retentions based solely on one high-stakes assessment, the Senate declined to take that bill up, and it died on the calendar. No additional effort has been made on the part of legislators to amend the statute to bring it in line with the Florida law after which it was supposedly modeled. SB 2161 contained the code sections to allow such an amendment, but none was offered when that conference report was debated.
The Florida literacy statute states expressly that one high-stakes test will not be the sole determiner of retentions, and it provides an important exemption that ensures a fair system for that state’s third-graders. Mississippi’s law is missing that provision. Additionally, the alternate assessment called for in our state’s law has not been provided. Nonetheless, if the statute is not amended, this year, any third-grade student who does not meet the cut score on the end-of-year high-stakes test will not be allowed to progress to fourth grade (re-take opportunities will be offered in late May and at the end of the summer). Educators are predicting that many third-graders who are performing well in their classes, and who are one or more grade-levels ahead in math and other courses, will be forced to repeat third grade unnecessarily because Mississippi’s law lacks the Florida provisions.
SB 2695, the voucher bill that uses state funding to pay tuition at unaccountable private schools, was passed earlier by the House and Senate, and will be sent to Governor Bryant, who has said he will sign it.
Legislators expect to finish their business and wrap up the session by tomorrow or Thursday. Please hang with us for one more day!