March 24, 2017
H. 3969 – Education Accountability Act
A – F Rating
Thursday morning in the House Education Committee meeting, the Committee adopted an amendment which moves from a 120-point scale to a 100-point scale when rating schools. Additionally, the amendment changes school performance rating terminology from “at-risk” to “unsatisfactory.”
Time ran out before an amendment by Representative Collins (Pickens) could be considered which would change school performance ratings to A-F. Prior to adjournment, Representative Taylor (Aiken) stated he conducted a survey via Face Book on this issue and that 98% of the 126 people that responded wanted an A-F rating scale. It is our understanding that Representative Collins has the votes to adopt the A-F rating.
Additionally, SCDE supports a strong growth metric for measuring student growth by defining what growth means to our state. EOC supports naming a specific statistical model in statute (value-added). We have never named a statistical model in statute before and believe that one should not be named until models and simulations have been run to determine which model best exemplifies what we want to see in student growth.
We need you to contact members of the House Education Committee to let them know that you
· Oppose an A-F school rating scale and support changing “at-risk” to “unsatisfactory.”
· Oppose naming a specific statistical model, value added, in statute and support having a definition for growth in the statute that is “a statistically reliable measure of the magnitude of student growth from one year to the next at the student and school level. “
The Committee will meet again on Tuesday, March 28 so please contact members of the House Education Committee and your House member prior to Tuesday morning.
The tenth week of General Assembly was consumed with the Senate building its version of the FY 2017-18 Appropriations Act and the House clearing its calendar after the previous week being spent on creating its version of the budget.
House of Representatives
House Floor Debate
· H. 3427 –( Computer Science Education) As introduced this bill enacts the “South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative” and provides that beginning with the 2018-2019 school year public high schools and public charter high schools shall adopt grade appropriate standards for computer science and computational thinking and computer coding for grades 9-12 and by the 2019-2020 School Year, each public high school and public charter high school must offer at least one computer science course. In school year 2018-19, the Department must employ one full-time employee to coordinate and lead the computer science education initiative, support teachers in designing instruction and assignments, design career pathways that connect students to postsecondary programs, and offer teacher endorsements and professional development to new computer science teachers in a two to four-week summer institute. Also, the Department of Education is to develop guidelines for outlining the educational and degree requirements for appropriate computer science teachers. The Commission on Higher Education shall determine what, if any, financial incentives are needed by institutions of higher education to design programs to prepare and credential computer science teachers. In addition, the Office of the Governor, beginning in fiscal year 2018-2019, shall establish criteria and a process for designating a STEM community or STEM region. Consistent with federal law, STEM includes computer science.
o Action: The bill received second reading on Tuesday with a vote of 106-1 and received third reading on Wednesday. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
· H. 3726 – (Pension Reform) This bill decouples employer and employee contribution rates into pension systems by eliminating the required differential between the two rates which is currently set at 2.9% for the largest pension plan, the South Carolina Retirement System which serves most state government employees, teachers, various local government employees, and others, and 5% for the Police Officers Retirement System. The legislation provides for a 2% increase in the employer contribution rates for these systems effective July 1, 2017, so that the SCRS employer contribution rate will increase from the current 11.56% to 13.56% and the PORS employer contribution rate will increase from the current 14.24% to 16.24%. Each year thereafter, a 1% increase is scheduled for these employer contribution rates until Fiscal Year 2022-2023. The legislation increases and places a cap on the employee contribution rate for these systems with the SCRS employee contribution rate increasing from the current 8.66% to 9% and the PORS employee contribution rate increasing from the current 9.24% to 9.75%. The assumed rate of return on pension plan investments is reduced from 7.5% to 7.25%. Future changes to the assumed rate of return, beginning with Fiscal Year 2021-2022, are to be recommended by the Public Employee Benefit Authority, with the General Assembly afforded an opportunity to disagree with PEBA’s recommendation prior to the new rate taking effect. The total cost contemplated for state general fund agencies and the Education Improvement Act for both SCRS and PORS is $73.6 million for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 and an additional $36.8 million for each of the next 5 years. The amortization period for unfunded liabilities is reduced from 30 years to 20 years over the course of the next 10 years. By applying the 2% employer contribution rate increase in year 1, the funding period will be reduced an additional 3 years in the first year, and an additional $100 million payment would be applied to the negative interest payment, which is now approximately $220 million annually. Provisions are made for how employer and employee contributions are to be reduced should the pension systems reach the point of comparative financial health when actuaries find them to be at least eighty-five percent funded.
o Action: The House adjourned debate on the bill until March 29th.
· H. 3462 – (Florence Three School Board) This bill revises the election of the Board of Trustees of Florence County School District Three to extend the terms of board members to four years, stagger the terms of the members, require that the members be elected at a general election held in an even-numbered year, and provide the process by which a vacancy is filled.
o Action: Rep. Kirby moved to adjourn debate until Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
· H. 3311 – (Career Pathways/Workforce Scholarships) This bill provides for the development and implementation of a Career Pathways Initiative, including a Pathways to First Careers Program and a Pathways to New Opportunities Program. The legislation makes provisions for a Workforce Scholarship and Grant Fund by establishing a tax credit for taxpayers who hire an apprentice and providing a tax credit for taxpayers who contribute to the Workforce Scholarship and Grant Fund.
o Action: The House adjourned debate on the bill.
· H. 3343 – (School Facilities Act) This bill enacts the “South Carolina Education School Facilities Act” to provide financial assistance to school districts to acquire school facilities by using general obligation bonds, and other forms of assistance. The legislation: makes provisions for the State Board of Education to determine and select on a priority basis, qualified school projects which shall receive financial assistance from the state; provides for the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education in this regard; and, makes other provisions about the construction or renovation of school facilities. The legislation repeals State School Facilities Bonds Act provisions which authorized the issuance of specific dollar amounts of state school facilities bonds within a specified time period.
o Action: The Ways and Means Committee gave a favorable report to the bill as amended on Tuesday and the House moved to adjourned debate on the bill on Thursday.
Senate Finance Committee
· H. 3720 – (Appropriations Act) Senate Finance spent the entire week examining provisos received from the House and did not “talk money” at all this week. Every proviso that had funds attached was adopted “conform to funding.” Upon adjournment of the Senate on Tuesday, the Committee will meet to hand out the spread sheets showing how available funds will be allocated. Once the Senate version of the bill has been finalized, details of the budget will be included in next week’s legislative update.
Education and Public Works Committee
· H. 3969 – (Education Accountability Act) This bill provides that the Education Oversight Committee shall design and pilot certain district accountability models that focus on competency-based education; by establishing a state longitudinal data system for measuring the continuous improvement of public education and the college readiness and career readiness of public school graduates. The bill also provides the measuring of student progress or growth using a value-added system in addition to other changes.
o Action – The State Department of Education (SCDE) and the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) worked on a compromise amendment that dealt with the differences of opinion on specific parts of the bill. As part of the compromise amendment, the SCDE will now design and pilot a competency-based education; exempts educator effectiveness data from public disclosure and will not be subject to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act; adds language referring to the Profile of the Graduate; changes the “absolute performance” to “performance rating;” specifies that formative assessments may be used in the performance ratings of primary schools but may not be used in ratings elementary, middle, and high schools; reduces testing in science and social studies; provides definitions for the school ratings of excellent, good, average, and at-risk; and phases in an earlier delivery of the school report cards so that by 2020 report cards will be available by September 1. One additional amendment was offered and agreed upon. The amendment changes the school rating of “at-risk” to “unsatisfactory” and moves from the current 120-point scale to a 100-point scale for use when rating schools.
Action on the Floor
· S. 199 – (Stopped School Bus) This bill authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue a ticket to the owner of a vehicle that illegally passes a stopped school bus based upon the inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other digitally recorded images produced by a digital recording system mounted on a school bus. It establishes civil penalties in an amount not to exceed $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense. Appeals procedures are also outlined in the bill.
o Action: The Senate moved to carry over the bill.
· S. 562 – (Sumter School Board) The bill increases the number of board members by two that are from the county at large; members elected in nonpartisan elections and must live in the district they are representing; initial at-large members are appointed by the Sumter County Legislative Delegation where they will serve until the next scheduled nonpartisan election; and staggers the terms of the two at large members with the one serving a two year term and one serving a four year term with the legislative delegation determining which will serve the two/four year term.
o Action: The Senate gave the bill second and third reading this week and the bill moves to the House for consideration.
· S. 568 – ( Williamsburg School Board) The bill increases the number of board members by two that are from the county at large; members elected in nonpartisan elections and must live in the district they are representing; specifies the members are elected for a four year term; initial at-large members are appointed by the Williamsburg County Legislative Delegation where they will serve until the next scheduled nonpartisan election; staggers the terms of the two at large members with the one serving a two year term and one serving a four year term with the legislative delegation determining which will serve the two/four year term; and specifies that the election of school boards shall occur on the first Monday of November every two years.
o Action: The Senate gave the bill second and third reading this week and the bill moves to the House for consideration.
· S. 462 – (Diploma Pathways) This bill, promoted by the State Department of Education, provides for personalized college and career ready pathways for students to receive a high school diploma. It also provides that all students must take a computer science course in coding and computer programing to meet graduation requirements. The bill also creates an Employability Credential for students who are not on track for graduation or who have an IEP which specifies that the student would not meet the state’s graduation requirements.
o Action: The Committee gave a favorable report to the bill as amended by the subcommittee. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration by the entire body.
· S. 534 – (Education Accountability Act) The bill makes several changes to the act. Changes are in the areas of the value-added system; adding Profile of the Graduate language; specifics on what data must be disaggregated; changing terminology from “absolute performance” to “performance rating;” redefining growth; reducing testing in science and social studies; and defining the academic performance ratings of excellent, good, average, below average, and at-risk.
o Action: Senator Hembree asked that the Committee carry over the bill since the companion bill was being considered in the House Education Committee on Thursday. He stated that he wanted to be able to consider the compromise amendment being worked on by the Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee.
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
· S. 131 – (Disturbing Schools) This bill removes students enrolled in a school from being charged with disturbing schools. The bill allows only those that are expelled/suspended and return to the campus or others who are not enrolled students to be charged with disturbing schools. The bill lists specific actions that constitute disturbing schools.
o Action: The Committee was offered an amendment to the bill which outlines unlawful acts of a person who is not a student (defined in the bill) who interferes, disrupts, or disturbs the normal operations of a school; specifies that students who have been suspended and asked to by a school administrator to leave the school property is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is fined not more than $100 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days or both. School administrators should comply with suspension and request for the student to leave the school property before calling law enforcement intervention. The amendment was adopted and the amended bill received a favorable report. The bill moves to the Senate calendar for consideration.