What is next for SB 2161?

Today, SB2161 is waiting to be signed by the Governor. If the Governor does not sign the bill, it will still become law because Mississippi does not have a pocket veto. The only way SB 2161 would not become law would be if the Governor vetoes the bill. Once the bill becomes law, the 15-person “Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness” will be established within 30 days.

How will SB 2161 impact Common Core (or the Mississippi College- and Career-Ready Standards) in Mississippi?MSCCSSCommision

The responsibilities of the Commission are as follows:

  1. Recommend additional academic standards or propose changes to existing academic standards to the State Board of Education and the State Legislature.
  2. Consider the impact on educators, including the need for professional development, when making any of the recommendations required in this section.
  3. Review relevant research on the subject area and identify areas in the standards where revision is appropriate.
  4. Examine curriculum standards for the subject area adopted by other states.
  5. Collect feedback on the standards from teachers, parents, and other citizens and make feedback available to the public via Internet posting.
  6. Issue its recommendation to the State Board of Education, the Governor, and the appropriate committees of the Legislature not later than December 1, 2015.

The Commission does not have the authority to change the Mississippi College- and Career-Ready Standards, either by repealing or amending them; it can only make suggestions to the State Board of Education. Unless the Commission recommends changes and the State Board accepts those changes, the standards will remain in place as they are written today. The law only requires that the Common Core copyright will be removed from any standards document adopted in Mississippi.

[UPDATED 4/8/2015] Although the standards for all four academic subjects areas are intended to make students “college and career ready,” MDE has informed us that they have not yet re-titled the science and the social studies standards under the name “Mississippi College- and Career-Ready Standards.” Currently, this name only refers to English/Language Arts and math standards. While the wording of the bill does not explicitly restrict the Commission only to reviewing the current “Mississippi College- and Career-Ready Standards” (i.e., English/Language Arts and math), both legislators and personnel at MDE tell us that their understanding is that the Commission will only focus on English and math standards, despite the fact that a science and a history teacher will be on the Commission. The expertise of science and history teachers will help inform what literacy skills are necessary across the subjects that should be incorporated in the English/Language Arts standards.

What does the bill say about data protection?

Also, in SB 2161, there is a section dedicated to student data privacy. It ensures that no personal data on students’ or their families’ religions, political party affiliations, biometric information, or voting histories will be shared with the federal government or for development of commercial products or services without parental consent. It further restricts psychological or socio-emotional surveys from being administered to students or completed by school personnel regarding a particular student without parental consent.

Does the bill mention PARCC testing?

The law specifically states that beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the State Board of Education cannot require districts to administer the PARCC assessments or any consortia-developed tests for use in graduation decisions or for student promotion. It also states that the tests administered this year cannot be used as a requirement for graduation.

What will Mississippi First do now?

Mississippi First will continue to update the public on the Commission as it begins to form. We will make recommendations of qualified candidates to the Governor, Lt. Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the Board of Education. Although the Commission is not tasked with examining testing, we expect assessments and testing to become a bigger topic of discussion as the State Board of Education decides who the 2015-2016 vendor for the state tests will be. Continue to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website for updates on Mississippi’s educational standards and assessments.


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