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Legislative Update – Week of April 25, 2016

You’ll notice there are bills that worked their way through the 109th General Assembly that aren’t listed below. We know the work to make sure every child in Tennessee receives a top-notch Tennessee education is vast and we focus our efforts into four policy priorities: High Academic Standards; Fewer, Better Tests; Greater Accountability; and More Choice in Education.

Without further delay, the 2016 Legislative Session results: 

HJR 496  – Withdrawn – Tennesseans for Student Success supported this resolution.

This resolution highlights safeguards and processes established by the General Assembly and Department of Education (DOE) during the transition to TNReady, including the Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment. The spirit of this resolution was incorporated into elements of HB 1537 and HB 1419.

HB 1537 – Passed – Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

This commonsense legislation provides greater accountability and transparency for TNReady and is the result of countless parent, teacher, administrator, elected official, and community members lending their voices to the state’s Assessment Task Force. This bill reduces the number of state-required assessments by eliminating the 8th grade EXPLORE and the 10th grade PLAN assessments, requires the Department of Education to release a portion of the previous year’s TNReady questions and answers, and provides one voluntary ACT or SAT retake opportunity for all students – free of charge.

HB 1419 – Passed – Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

Provides teachers with options for how results from TNReady, the state’s new annual assessment aligned to the standards taught in the classroom, will affect their evaluations in this transition year.

HB 2629 – Passed – Tennesseans for Student Success supported this bill.

This year’s budget contains the largest investment in education – without a tax increase – in the state’s history. Including money to increase teacher pay, eliminate unnecessary tests, and shore up the historic gains made in our classrooms, this Budget continues the work done that led to Tennessee becoming the fastest improving state in the nation in education.

HB 1473 – Failed / Taken Off Notice– Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

The ACT gives our students options for their future. It lets our teachers see an overall snap shot of where their students are. And it lets the state analyze the overall readiness for college. This bill would have allowed students to opt out of the ACT creating an inaccurate picture of a district’s ability to prepare students for life after high school.

HB 1794 – Failed / Taken Off Notice – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

By rewarding mediocrity, HB 1704 would have effectively disincentivized the state’s best and highest-achieving teachers. This bill would have tied the hands of local school districts and made it harder for them to reward their top teachers requiring tenure to be extended to teachers who performed at minimally acceptable levels.

HB 2020 – Failed – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

We believe every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a quality education that prepares them for success. This legislation would have hindered the work to help rescue students trapped in failing Tennessee schools by artificially limiting which students may attend schools in the Achievement School District.

HB 1753 – Failed / Taken Off Notice – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

This bill weakens the state’s strong accountability measures and would have created an unfair picture of a school’s performance by only including certain kids in a school’s performance measures.

HB 1737 – Failed / Taken Off Notice – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

This bill would have tied the hands of local school districts while limiting their ability to hire the best and most skilled employees by requiring the school board, not the director of schools, to hire finance, legal, and communication staff for the district.

SB 1606 – Failed – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

Politics should stop at a school’s front door. Teachers and students don’t need the distractions of political whims – they need a clear mission, the tools to accomplish that mission, and a clear path to success. Senate Bill 1606 would have reestablished a process to elect school superintendents, limiting the pool of qualified candidates to only those living within the county.

HB 858 –Failed – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

Chronically under-performing schools are failing our kids. Every Tennessee student should have an equal opportunity to succeed and if a student is trapped in a failing school, every week, every semester, every year that we wait to intervene is another year our kids fall further behind. This legislation would stand in the way of that good work creating a process to block the turnaround of underperforming schools.

SB 1984 – Failed – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

This legislation would have authorized local school districts to choose between TCAP and ACT-based assessments, creating two separate systems of assessment and accountability in Tennessee. By creating two assessment systems, this bill would complicate the state’s ability to compare and contrast district performance depending on which assessments were administered. Tennessee needs a coherent, rigorous, and transparent assessment and accountability system.

HB 2431 – Failed / Taken Off Notice – Tennesseans for Student Success opposed this bill.

This legislation would have prohibited a local board of education from requiring student scores on achievement tests to comprise a percentage of the student’s grade in the subject areas of mathematics, reading/language arts, science, or social studies. Currently, ten states report using End of Course (EOC) test scores as a component of course performance. Including EOC results in a student’s final grade ensure that everyone, students, parents, and teachers, are invested in the process and ensure a fair system of accountability.

As you can see, the team at Tennesseans for Student Success hit the ground running this January and have sprinted through the finish of the 109th General Assembly. Along with our partners in education reform, champions of student success in the legislature, and other advocates for students, we are grateful for the work done in the past several months. Again, we offer our profound thanks. We couldn’t do this work without you.

What’s next for Tennesseans for Student Success? Much like a marathon runner, we’ve crossed one mile marker, grabbing some water, and continuing to race with our eyes on the finish line: every student in Tennessee succeeds. We will be busy in the coming months as we continue about our work to support and defend Tennessee’s academic achievement gains and we can’t wait to let you in on our fun plans.

As you’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter, and on our new website, we’re committed to engage heavily throughout the remainder of 2016. The work done in our classrooms absolutely has to be supported and protected in the 110th General Assembly and we’re glad to continue that advocacy with you. In the next few weeks we’ll be announcing another summer project – so stay tuned to your inbox!

Legislative Alert

Politics should stop at a school’s front door. Our classrooms should be places of learning and student success. They should never be used as political props that will undermine the hard work done by Tennessee’s students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Representative Bo Mitchell is proposing an amendment today that would require every Tennessee classroom to adjust their TNReady schedule so that each assessment – in every classroom – is proctored by a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. This clearly unworkable amendment proves Mitchell’s continued intent is to stand at the door of progress in education, not welcome it in.

Representative Bo Mitchell’s amendment proposes turning classrooms into press events where politicians, not students, are the center of the room and would tie the hands of Tennessee’s hard-working teachers. Tennessee’s kids deserve better.

Email Representative Mitchell ( rep.bo.mitchell@capitol.tn.gov ) today and ask him to stop playing politics with Tennessee’s kids.

https://www.facebook.com/tnstudentsuccess/photos/a.814404508630438.1073741828.807585119312377/1053622981375255/?type=3&theater