Legislative Update – April 7, 2014

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

On Tuesday, April 3rd, the full House Education Committee met and reviewed the following bills and regulations:

H. 3905 (Back to Basics in Education Act of 2013) The bill requires that students are taught cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables by the end of fifth grade.  The bill was amended to add cursive writing materials to the instructional materials adoption list. The bill received a favorable report as amended.

H. 4650 (Proficiency-based credits) The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish an optional proficiency-based system as an alternative to traditional seat-time requirements. Normal requirements of 120 seat hours would not apply to credits earned through a proficiency-based course. Example courses include distance learning, online learning, independent study, etc. The system must be optional for each school district. The bill received a favorable report.

H.3435 (Comprehensive Health Education Act) The bill greatly alters the comprehensive health education programs implemented by school districts. The bill would require reproductive health instruction to be medically accurate, while changing the grade levels at which this instruction would be offered. Under the bill, students must receive 12.5 hours of health education instruction during the ninth or tenth grade. The State Board of Education would be required to develop a health instruction unit every two years, and districts would be required to use the unit unless the district develops its own health instruction unit annually. Additional changes include the teaching of contraceptive methods in relation to pregnancy and disease prevention, rather than just future family planning. Also, the bill would remove the restriction that male and female students must be taught this information separately. Teachers providing comprehensive health instruction would undergo professional development in either reproductive health or pregnancy prevention every two years, and have a certificate in health education by August 1, 2016. In order to ensure compliance, each district would have to send an annual report to the State Department of Education by June 15. The bill received a favorable report.

On Wednesday, April 2nd, the House Education Subcommittee met and reviewed the following bills:

H.3532 (Childcare Providers) The bill would change the complex system of certifications for childcare facilities in the state by requiring all sites and camps to be certified by DSS.  The amendment requires childcare facilities taking children less than five years old and open more than one hour must be licensed by DSS.  Summer programs opened more than two weeks must be licensed. It references a new definition for Limited Permit Childcare Facilities. It limits ABC Vouchers to licensed or registered Childcare facilities and includes the new limited Permit Facilities in the existing law that requires written notice to parents when the facility does not carry liability insurance.  The bill received a favorable report as amended.

H.3893 (Statewide Education Standards and Assessments) The bill requires that all standards and assessment changes be approved by the Legislature.  The bill was amended to mirror a compromise proposal currently in the Senate on the Common Core State Standards.  The House version differs on when the state will perform a cyclical review of ELA and math standards not developed by the state.  The Senate version states that the review will be no later than 2018 and the House version changes the date to 2016.  The bill received a favorable report as amended.

Bill on the House Floor:

H. 3994 (Read to Succeed Act) The bill would create the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office in order to take a comprehensive, systematic approach to student reading performance.  It also requires the Department of Education, with approval by the State Board of Education, to create and have a State Reading Proficiency Plan in place by January 1, 2015.  Beginning in 2015-1016, each district must prepare a comprehensive annual reading proficiency plan for Pre-K through twelfth grade. The State Superintendent of Education shall ensure that every student entering the public schools for the first time in prekindergarten and kindergarten will be administered a readiness assessment by the forty‑fifth day of the school year. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, a student must be retained in the third grade if the student fails substantially to demonstrate third‑grade reading proficiency at the end of the third grade. A student may be exempt for good cause from the mandatory retention but shall continue to receive instructional support and services and reading intervention appropriate for their age and reading level.

Beginning in 2015‑2016, early childhood and elementary education certified classroom teachers, reading interventionists, and those special education teachers who provide learning disability and speech services to students who need to improve substantially their low reading and writing proficiency skills are required to earn the literacy teacher add-on endorsement within ten years of their most recent certification by taking at least two courses or six credit hours every five years, or the equivalent professional development hours as determined by the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office, consistent with existing recertification requirements. The courses leading to the endorsement must be approved by the State Board of Education and must include classes in foundations, assessment, content area reading and writing, instructional strategies, and an embedded or stand-alone practicum.   Whenever possible, these courses will be offered at a professional development rate which is lower than the certified teacher rate.  Early childhood and elementary education certified classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers who provide learning disability and speech services to students who need to improve substantially their reading and writing proficiency and who already possess their add-on reading teacher certification can take a content area reading course to obtain their literacy teacher add-on endorsement.  Teachers who have earned a masters or doctorate in reading, who have earned a literacy teacher add-on endorsement, or who have completed an intensive, prolonged professional development program like Reading Recovery or another program  that are approved by the State Board of Education in regulation are exempt from this requirement.

Beginning in 2015‑2016, middle and secondary certified classroom teachers are required to take at least two courses or six credit hours, or the equivalent professional development hours as determined by the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office, to improve reading instruction within five years of their most recent certification. The courses must be approved by the State Board ofEducation and include courses leading to the literacy teacher add-onendorsement. Coursework in reading must include a course in reading in the content areas. Whenever possible, these courses will be offered at a professional development rate which is lower than the certified teacher rate.  Only certified  teachers who have earned a master’s or doctorate in reading, who have earned a literacy teacher add-on endorsement, or who have completed an intensive, prolonged professional development program like Reading Recovery or another program as approved by the State Board of Education in regulation are exempt from this requirement.

Beginning in 2015-2016, principals and administrators who are responsible for reading instruction or intervention and school psychologists in a school district or school are required to take at least one course or three credit hours within five years of their most recent certification or the equivalent professional development hours as determined by the South Carolina Read to Succeed Office. The course or professional development must include information about reading process, instruction, and assessment or content area literacy and must be approved by the Read to Succeed Office.

Beginning in 2015-16, reading/literacy coaches are required to earn the add-on certification within six years by taking the courses as required by the Department for the add-on. The bill has been placed on the House contested calendar.

SENATE

On Thursday, April 3rd, the K-12 Education Subcommittee met and reviewed the following bills:

S.1057 (Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act) The bill deletes the appeals process for a teacher who is dismissed or non-renewed. The bill was carried over.

S.1058 (Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act) The bill requires the principal or the school districts to notify parents if their child’s teacher is being taught by an annual contract teacher undergoing a highly consequential evaluation or a continuing contract teachers how has received written notice and is undergoing a formal summative evaluation. The bill was carried over.

S.1059 (Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act) The bill requires districts keep a database of teachers who fail certain evaluations or who are non-renewed.  Also, it further states that the database must be available to other districts that might employ the teacher. The bill was carried over.

S.1144 (Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act) The bill requires the districts to adopt a written reduction in force policy that beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, a reduction in force policy may not include seniority or length of service as the most significant factor. Beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year, or the first academic year for which teacher evaluation results, including statistically reliable measures of student growth, are available, a reduction in force policy shall comply with the following:

1. Teacher effectiveness, as demonstrated through summative performance ratings, shall be the most significant factor in district reduction in force policies;

2. Seniority or length of service may not be a factor in district reduction in force policies, but may be considered in the event of a tie between teachers;

3.  Teacher compensation may not be a factor in district reduction in force polices; and

4. Other factors, including but not limited to, teacher leadership roles, subject areas and attendance may be included in district reduction in force policies at the discretion of the department and the local school district. The bill received a favorable report as amended and will now go to the full Senate Education Committee next week.

S.1194 (Summer Reading Camps) The joint resolution allows districts to meet the requirements of the 2014 summer reading camps by using summer reading program funds in the current budget year to partner with the State Department of Education’s Summer Reader Loss Prevention Project.  The partnership must provide school districts with books to set up free book fairs for summer reading camp-identified students.  The students must be allowed to select eight books based on their reading ability level and interest.  The book fair must be held at the end of the school year with students taking their books home for the summer accompanied with a reading log to be completed by the student.  Also, a school district that uses these funds for the partnership may carry forward any unexpended funds to be used for summer reading camp programs. The joint resolution received a favorable report as amended and will now go to the full Senate Education Committee next week.

On Thursday, April 3rd, the Finance K-12 Education Budget Subcommittee met to adopt provisos.  The subcommittee adopted the following proviso changes:

1.3.        (SDE: EFA Formula/Base Student Cost Inflation Factor)  To the extent possible within available funds, it is the intent of the General Assembly to provide for one hundred percent of full implementation of the Education Finance Act to include an inflation factor projected by the Division of Budget and Analyses to match inflation wages of public school employees in the Southeast.  The base student cost for the current fiscal year has been determined to be $2,101 $2,120In Fiscal Year 2013-14 For the current fiscal year, the total pupil count is projected to be 698,924 708,231.  The average per pupil funding is projected to be $5,147 $5,290 state, $1,185 $1,154 federal, and $4,855 $4,996 local.  This is an average total funding level of $11,187 $11,440 excluding revenues of local bond issues.  For Fiscal Year 2013-14 the current fiscal year the South Carolina Public Charter School District and any institution of higher education sponsoring a public charter school shall receive and distribute state EFA funds to the charter school as determined by one hundred percent of the current year’s base student cost, as funded by the General Assembly multiplied by the weighted students pupils enrolled in the charter school, which must be subject to adjustment for student attendance.

The Budget and Control Board, Research and Statistics Division, must post in a prominent place on their website for each school district projections, including the per pupil state, federal and local revenues, excluding revenues of local bond issues, for the current fiscal year.  Also, as soon as practicable, upon determining the exact numbers regarding pupil count and funding, the Budget and Control Board, Research and Statistics Division, shall also post on their website the 135-day average daily membership for each school district and per pupil state, federal and local revenues, excluding revenues of local bond issues, based on the most recent audited financial statement as reported annually pursuant to Section 59-17-100.  The Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee shall provide in a prominent place on their internet websites a link to the information posted by the Budget and Control Board, Research and Statistics Division, including the projected numbers and the exact numbers.

      For the current fiscal year, the pupil classification weightings are as follows:

           (1)  K-12 pupils or base students including

homebound students………………………………………………….. 1.00

Students served in licensed residential treatment facilities (RTFs) for children                                     and adolescents as defined under Section 44-7-130 of the 1976 Code shall                                       receive a weighing of 2.10

            (2)  Weights for students with disabilities as prescribed in Section 59-20-40(1)(c) Special Programs

(3)   Precareer and Career Technology……………………….. 1.201.29

          (4)   Additional weights for personalized instruction:

                  (A)   Gifted and Talented……………………………………………. 0.15

                  (B)   Academic Assistance………………………………………….. 0.15

                  (C)  Young Adult Education……………………………………….. 0.20

                  (D)(C)Limited English Proficiency……………………………… 0.20

                  (E)(D)Pupils in Poverty…………………………………………….. 0.20

No local match is required for the additional weightings for personalized instruction in school year 2014‑2015.  After the 2014‑2015 school year, a local match to conform with the Education Finance Act will be required.

Students may receive multiple weights for personalized instruction; however, within each weight, students should only be counted once.  These weights are defined below:

      Gifted and talented students are students who are classified as academically or artistically gifted and talented or who are enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in high school.  Districts shall set-aside twelve percent of the funds for serving artistically gifted and talented students in grades three through twelve.

      Students in need of academic assistance are students who do not meet state standards in mathematics, English language arts, or both on state approved assessments in grades 3-8 and high school assessments for grades 9-12 through 12.  The additional weight generates funds needed to provide additional instructional services to these students.

      Young adults are students between the ages of 17 and 21 who are pursuing a high school diploma, a high school equivalency diploma (GED), or a work readiness skills credential through a public school adult education program and are no longer part of the regular school setting.

      Students with limited English proficiency are students who require intensive English language instruction programs and whose families require specialized parental involvement intervention.

      Students in poverty are students eligible for USDA reimbursement for free lunch the free or reduced price Federal lunch program and/or are eligible for Medicaid.

For Fiscal Year 2014-15, school districts must continue to collect information to determine student eligibility for free or reduced price lunches per current Federal guidelines regardless of any changes in reporting requirements by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Further, the Department of Education may use school district student counts for personalized instruction as collected in the same manner as the prior fiscal year, PowerSchool or other available existing data sources as determined by the department to calculate the school district add on weightings for the personalized instruction classifications and the determination of the school districts monetary entitlement.  End of year adjustments shall be based on the one hundred thirty five day student average daily membership for all classifications.  During the current fiscal year the department will update PowerSchool calculations, reports, screen development, documentation, and training to incorporate the new pupil classification weightings and to make final district allocation adjustments by June 30, 2015.  The department must provide districts with technical assistance with regard to student count changes in PowerSchool.

1.89  (SDE:  Charter School Transition Funds)  For Fiscal Year 2014-15, charter schools sponsored by a local school district and located in a district receiving transition funds in local school districts must receive transition funds from the local district in an amount equal to any reduction in funds received by the school due to the changes in the Education Finance Act formula. If the amount of transition funds for the charter schools exceeds the school district’s allotment of transition funds, transition funds will be reduced pro rata for all parties.

Senate Floor Actions:

H.3919 (High School Exit Exam) The bill eliminates the high school exit exam beginning with the class of 2015.  It allows anyone who did not receive a high school diploma solely on the basis of failing to pass the exit exam to appeal to the local school board.  The bill received third reading and was sent to back to the House with amendments.

S.516 (Read to Succeed) The Senate will continue debating the bill next week.

H.4968 (Education Finance Act) The bill mirrors the weightings used to determine the annual Education Finance Act allocations as adopted in the 2014-2015 House budget.  It was sent to the Senate and was referred to the Education Subcommittee.

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