Dennis DeBar


2024 Session


Latest Action

The House and Senate failed to file a conference report for SB 2689 by the April 29 deadline, causing this bill to die in conference.

Explanation of the Bill

Beginning in the 2026-2027 school year, Senate Bill 2689 would scrap the existing end-of-course subject area tests that are required for graduation and replace them with “nationally recognized college readiness and career readiness tests, such as, but not limited to, the ACT and ACT WorkKeys assessments.” Passing EOC subject area tests for Algebra I, Biology I, English II, and US History would no longer be a requirement for graduation, though students would still be required to take and pass these courses. These EOC subject area tests would also be removed from the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System, which already includes the ACT and ACT WorkKeys.

Federal law requires states to administer statewide assessments in ELA/reading and math (once a year in grades 3-8, and once in high school), as well as science (once between grades 3-5, once between grades 6-9, and once between in grades 10-12). Currently, the EOC subject area tests for Algebra I, Biology I, and English II fulfill the high school portion of these requirements. Mississippi also chooses to administer the US History EOC exam, though this is not required by federal law. Passing these four EOC subject area tests is currently a graduation requirement (although there are alternate pathways for students who do not pass these exams), and these exams are also a component of the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System, which assigns letter grades to school districts and individual schools based on academic performance and related indicators.

Under SB 2689, Mississippi would seek to fulfill federal testing requirements by administering a “college-readiness assessment”—likely the ACT, which includes an English, mathematics, reading, and science component (the ACT does not include a US history component). MDE would need to secure approval from the US Department of Education to administer the ACT for this purpose. SB 2689 would also require all students to take the ACT WorkKeys (which measures “foundational skills required for success in the workplace” and is currently optional for students), though this is not a federal requirement.

By ceasing to require the administration of EOC subject area tests, SB 2689 would presumably result in these tests being dropped from the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System. Accountability grades for high schools are currently calculated using the following:

  • ELA/Reading: Proficiency
  • ELA/Reading: Growth (all students)
  • ELA/Reading: Growth (lowest 25% of students)
  • Math: Proficiency 
  • Math: Growth (all students)
  • Math: Growth (lowest 25% of students)
  • Science: Proficiency
  • US History: Proficiency
  • Advanced Coursework: Performance
  • Advanced Coursework: Participation 
  • College and Career Readiness: ACT Performance or ACT WorkKeys
  • English-Language Learners: Progress to Proficiency
  • Graduation Rate

The ELA/reading, math, science, and US history components of the high school accountability model would no longer be relevant in the absence of EOC subject area tests. It would be up to the State Board of Education to reorganize the accountability system without requiring EOC subject area tests. It is likely that the ACT and/or ACT WorkKeys would have a greater role in determining accountability grades, though it is unclear if there would be a growth component included for these assessments (rather than just proficiency). A growth component would likely be very difficult to determine as there would need to be an alignment study between ACT/ACT WorkKeys and the eighth grade ELA and math tests. Furthermore, the State Board would need to determine what proficiency is on the ACT/ACT WorkKeys, as the benchmarks provided by the College Board are “college readiness” or “career readiness,” not proficiency aligned to state standards.

Another minor change to the accountability system under SB 2689 is that the bill deletes the provision requiring the lowest 5% of schools to be designated as “priority” schools and the lowest 10% of schools to be designated as “focus” schools if at least 5% of schools are not rated as “F” and 10% of school rated as “D.” These designations were federal categories intended to identify schools in need of additional support, but the nomenclature and methodology for selecting these schools has changed since the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Because most Mississippi high school students already take the ACT and/or ACT WorkKeys, using these assessments in place of EOC subject area tests is intended to reduce the time students spend on test preparation and administration. In a 2018 report, Mississippi First found that students spent an average of 7 hours, 53 minutes taking state tests in the 2014-2015 school year. While this amount would presumably be reduced under SB 2689, the bill would not necessarily reduce the amount of time spent on district tests, which are not required under state or federal law but are administered nonetheless. In the same report, we also found that students took more district tests than state tests in each of the four districts we studied.

2/29/24On February 29, the Senate Education Committee passed a committee substitute for SB 2689.
3/12/24On March 12, the Senate passed the committee substitute for SB 2689 with a reverse repealer. The bill will now be transmitted to the House.
4/2/24On April 2, the House Education Committee amended SB 2689 to include a reverse repealer.
4/4/24On April 4, the House passed SB 2689 as amended with a reverse repealer.
4/9/24On April 9, the Senate invited conference on SB 2689.
4/29/24The House and Senate failed to file a conference report for SB 2689 by the April 29 deadline, causing this bill to die in conference.