Over at The Education Report, I’ve written about the recently concluded legislative session.
Here are a couple highlights:
As the General Assembly finished its business this week, legislation that would expand the state’s fledgling voucher program (now confined to Memphis and Nashville) to Chattanooga was finally passed.
To be clear, it had been passed in the Senate before.
The House, however, was eager to get vouchers into even more communities – and so added an amendment that would add Knox County to the mix.
Ultimately, Knox County was NOT added – but let’s be clear: The legislature wants full-on privatization of the state’s public schools.
What’s up with third grade?
Tennessee now has a third grade retention law – meaning that students who don’t hit a certain benchmark on the state’s 3rd grade TNReady test MUST repeat third grade OR participate in remediation, including a summer reading program. Some estimates suggest more than 60% of students would be subject to the law’s requirements and around half of those may ultimately repeat third grade.
The legislature did so SOME tinkering – but it won’t help this year’s kids.
Unless the full legislature intervenes before adjourning in the next few weeks, this year’s decisions on who gets held back or sent to remedial programs will be based solely on TCAP reading test results. That’s the current criterion under a 2021 law that lawmakers passed in response to pandemic learning losses.
If the proposed revisions are approved as expected, the state would widen criteria beginning with the 2023-24 school year to consider results from a second state-provided benchmark test, too — but only for third graders who score as “approaching” proficiency on their TCAP.
Guns in Schools?
Gov. Bill Lee did ultimately propose the adoption of a Red Flag Law – but no GOP member of the House or Senate rose up to sponsor it in the legislature’s final days.
Now, Lee is calling a special session to focus specifically on gun violence and public safety.
It’s not yet clear whether GOP lawmakers will back this effort pushed by their party’s leader.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport