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Video: Senate Passes Education Reforms

[bitsontherun gN1Mw6kZ]By JEFF AMY/Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – State senators are offering a compromise on requirements to become a teacher and are omitting a proposal making it easier for the state to take over troubled schools.

The Miss. Senate voted 28-23 Tuesday to approve its version of House Bill 890.

The measure includes the latest Senate version of charter schools, an increase in standards to enter teacher preparation and a call to flunk third graders who can’t read.

Before the bill passed, Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, an Oxford Republican, stripped a provision calling for the state to take over any F-rated school that doesn’t reach a C rating after two years.

Tollison also softened requirements for teachers to score at least 21 on the ACT college test and a 3.0 GPA on earlier college courses.

STATE SENATE PRESS RELEASE

JACKSON – The Mississippi Senate today passed sweeping education reforms that give parents a choice in their children’s education, raise academic standards for becoming a teacher and reduce the high school drop-out rate.

“This legislation is the most significant education reform package seen in Mississippi since the Education Reform Act of 1982,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “The public is tired of excuses for not improving education. Gov. Bryant and I agree his initiatives can have a real impact on the quality of education, which will lead to better jobs for future generations. The Legislature has kicked the can down the road long enough. It’s time for real change.”

The Senate amended House Bill 890 with a comprehensive education reform package that includes proposals from Gov. Phil Bryant’s Education Works agenda such as improving reading skills in first through third grades and strengthening teacher quality. The bill also offers a compromise on public charter schools. The bill heads to House for concurrence.

The bill also measures literacy skills for students in Kindergarten through third grade, provides intervention programs for students needing assistance and requires third-grade students to meet reading standards before moving to the fourth grade.

Other features of the amended bill from Gov. Bryant’s Education Works agenda include:

· Gradually raising the standards for students entering teacher education programs to have a score of 21 on the ACT and a 3.0 GPA.

· Provide a $15,000 scholarship for students in a teacher education program, who score at least a 28 on the ACT and a 3.5 GPA.

· Require high schools with graduation rates lower than 80 percent to submit an improvement plan to the state Department of Education.

The amended bill includes a compromise on establishing public charter schools in Mississippi, including features of the House proposal to allow a maximum of 15 new public charter schools annually. Public charter schools must document community support before opening, and operators must have a track record of academic success at other public charter school locations.

The Senate amendment would allow school boards in districts rated as A or B to decide on whether to allow parents to have a voice in their children’s education by granting the boards the authority to veto public charter school applications. Districts rated D and F would only need approval from the state’s independent authorizing board.

In C-rated districts, public charter schools would have to gain approval from both the school board and state authorizing board through 2016. At that point, public charter schools in C-rated districts would be authorized solely by the state’s authorizing board. The bill also allows school districts to convert existing schools into public charter schools through a partnership with a nonprofit public charter school operator.