The Hinds County School District has become the 8th school district to adopt the CHART Abstinence-Plus policy. The districts new policy was adopted on January 12th. The county is currently identified as Priority 2, due to it’s significantly high sexually-transmitted infection rates. This is the first district in the Metro Jackson area to adopt the policy. The Jackson Public School district is currently weighing their options re: their sex education options.
More districts are expected to adopt the policy in the coming weeks. Check here for new updates between now and the July 1st deadline.
Introduction to the new Senate Education Committee Chair
Senator Gray Tollison was selected by Lt. Governor Reeves to serve as the chair of the Senate Education Committee. This appointment will give the senator tremendous influence on the education-related bills considered by the legislature.
Below is a brief description of where Sen. Tollison stood on MSF policy goals and other education-related issues during the previous legislative session.
Very little action has taken place in the Senate on pre-Kindergarten. A bill designed to create a foundation committed to early childhood development died in the Senate Ed Committee, which happened without a recorded vote.
Tollison has supported charter legislation during previous sessions, and he voted for Sen. Michael Watson’s charter school bill last year, which died in the House Education Committee. With both the Governor and Lt. Governor making charter schools a top legislative priority, it seems highly likely that Sen. Tollison will support a new law.
Tollison supported the senate version of HB999, which ultimately became our new sex ed law. It is unclear whether or not the senator would have voted for the original, less-restrictive House version.
Other Education Bills Authored by Tollison
SB2241 - To delete the provision that would have allowed parents to dis-enroll their children in full-day Kindergarten [died in committee]
SB2631 - To establish the Task Force to Study Teacher Salaries [passed in Senate, died in House committee]
SB2684 - Requires the State Board of Education to set the salary of the State Superintendent of Education [signed into law by the governor]
An additional factoid about Senator Tollison is that he switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican shortly after the November elections.
More to come...
Many of you have probably already seen the New York Times article about a new study on effective teachers from three prominent education researchers, but I wanted to send it your way as well as a link to the actual study, including executive summary and a powerpoint from the researchers (which are far more interesting to wonks like us). And if you need further encouragement to look at the study, there's a major part of the study that the NYT headline alone doesn't indicate.
Here's the gist:
- This large-scale study settles some key controversies around the accuracy of value-added for measuring the effectiveness of teachers, including whether VA penalizes teachers who are systematically assigned lower performing students (no) and whether VA accurately measures effectiveness (yes) versus "teaching to the test" (no).
- Highly effective teachers (as measured by value-added) have impacts beyond raising achievement, including such life outcomes as higher earnings, higher college-going rates, and lower teen pregnancy.
Mississippi's scores and comments from the Early Learning Challenge have been posted to the U.S. Department of Education's website. The department also released the rankings of scores, which provided pretty sobering news for the magnolia state. Of the 37 applications reviewed for this competitive grant, Mississippi's application ranked a very dissappointing 35th. Only Hawaii and Puerto Rico earned lower scores than we did.
Click here for links to our scores, comments, and rankings.
The third round of Race to the Top represents the third missed opportunity for our state. After failing to submit an application during the 1st round, we have score third-to-last in last two rounds. This poor performance has denied our state millions of dollars, not to mention opportunities to implement long-overdue education reforms.
When it comes to federal education funding, it appears that competitive grants are here to stay. At some point, policymakers in Mississippi must accept this, and then get serious about being competitve.
Mississippi comes up short.
The U.S. Departments of Education and Health & Human Services have just announced the winners of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (ELC). The grant competition was designed to support states that created high-quality plans to improve early learning standards, increase access to high-quality early ed programs, and to improve workforce training and support.
And the winners are: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington.
Six of the nine ELC members were also Race to the Top winners in 2010 (CA, MN, and WA are the three exceptions). North Carolina is the only southern winner among the six southern states that applied. In all, 36 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications.
As expected, Mississippi was one of the 28 applicants that didn’t win funding. We previously stated that as one of only 11 states in the country without state-funded pre-K, submitting an application that lacked even a pilot pre-K model left us with little hope of winning.
Final scores and reviewer comments should be released in the coming days. When this happens, you can find them here at mississippifirst.org.