URGENT ALERT: Senate Passes Transfer Bill, Alternative Bill Filed in House
Yesterday, the Senate gave final approval to SB 493, a bill intended to address the school transfer issue. The vote capped off a long week for the Senate as Senators worked late into the night both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. In the end there were more than 20 amendments considered during more than twelve hours of floor debate until Senators settled on a final version. The final vote was 27-5.
The bill is extensive and touches on several issues beyond just student transfers. You can download our complete summary and analysis of the bill at the bottom of this page.
SAC is opposed to this bill in its current form. Contact your State Representative(s) and urge them to oppose SB 493!
In attempting to address problems caused by the transfer law, all school districts are going to be negatively affected by SB 493 because of additional items included in the bill.
- SB 493 creates three starkly different accreditation systems for schools in Missouri. Charter schools would be accredited based solely upon a system created by their own sponsor. Private schools would be accredited by an entity known as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation. Meanwhile, public schools would continue to be accredited utilizing MSIP5.
- The bill does nothing to address the challenges being faced in school districts with high poverty. By taking students out of their community schools, SB 493 destroys communities.
- Either by allowing private schools to cherry pick students or by transferring students to other successful schools or districts, SB 493 promotes a system that hides students with difficulty learning in the states accreditation system or in unaccountable private schools.
- SB 493 penalizes school districts that seek to focus resources on alternative schools, juvenile centers, or programs dedicated.
- With the requirement that "Provisional" and "Unaccredited" districts retain any student in 5th or 8th grade if the student fails to score proficient or advanced on MAP tests, SB 493 creates a system of "high stakes" testing and ensures that once a district struggles they will never recover.
73 Reps Sponsor Bill Seeking Proactive Solution to Struggling Schools
On the same day the Senate passed SB 493, a less publicized bill was filed in the House of Representatives. HB 2037 was filed by Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R - Blue Springs), and received 73 co-sponsors, which offers a complete alternative to student transfers and instead focuses on preventive measures to require the state to do everything possible to address low performance.
HB 2037 requires DESE to appoint a team made up of practicing educators to go into districts before a district is given "Provisional" accreditation in order to do a complete analysis of the district. The team would assess the reasons for the low performance as well as highlight the successes occurring within the district. Once the review has occurred, the State Board of Education would then be allowed to classify the district as "Provisionally" accredited.
Utilizing the district analysis, the district would then be required to enter into a performance contract with the State Board of Education to commit to certain interventions for each school building whose annual performance report score is consistent with "Provisionally" accredited or "Unaccredited". The contract would also require the interventions, support, and expertise that DESE would provide to the district. Additionally, the district could be required to engage partners within their community to show support for the school district. In exchange for this performance contract, the district would be granted "Provisional" accreditation for as long as the district met the requirements of the contract.
SAC fully supports HB 2037. Administrators should urge their State Representatives to pass HB 2037!
- Seeks to create a more proactive system of dealing with struggling school districts that reflects a shared responsibility between the local school district and the state by laying out the responsibilities and expectations of the local school district AND the state department of education.
- The bill provides a process where schools can be held accountable to meet performance measures without the threat of the current transfer law bankrupting districts when they are classified as unaccredited.
- The bill would require action from DESE instead of allowing a district to continue to maintain provisional accreditation for an infinite amount of time by giving broad authority to DESE to implement innovative, proven interventions to support struggling schools and districts. There is no limit on what provisions can be included in these contracts.
- The review team concept is one that can turn districts around when they begin to struggle. DESE at one time utilized these teams made up of practicing educators with expertise in various areas of education to assess a district’s effectiveness in meeting the needs of students and recommend improvement strategies. The program was cheap and effective. This concept has not been utilized in years and has been replaced by a system of top-down state mandated style of school improvement that is punitive in nature.
Posted on Fri, February 28, 2014