The NCLBC shall exercise unified political power for the betterment of people of color and consequently, all North Carolinians.

Senate passes multiple K-12 school reforms

June 13th, 2018

— Several education measures cleared the Senate Wednesday, including a study meant to decrease testing, a push to make sure schools teach cursive and multiplication tables, a new way for struggling school systems to reorganize and a guarantee that high math scores will land students in advanced math classes.

This is all part of House Bill 986, which passed the Senate unanimously and heads back to the House for more discussion. The Senate also approved House Bill 611, which will give school superintendents an out to the state’s nepotism rules if a local school board approves the hiring of his or her spouse.

The rule was making it hard to recruit superintendents in rural areas, lawmakers said, and was unfair to couples when one of them rose through the ranks to the system’s top job. This bill also passed the Senate on a unanimous vote and heads to the House.

House Bill 986 is, in part, a response to a News Observer and Charlotte Observer series that showed lower-income students were left out of advanced math courses despite high test scores. This bill says that, if advanced math courses are offered, any student scoring a five on the end-of-grade test the year before will be enrolled.

The bill is something of an omnibus, touching on multiple areas of education policy. It requires the state Department of Public Instruction to report on which school systems are adhering to a requirement the General Assembly passed several years ago to teach cursive writing and the memorization of multiplication tables.

Some legislators have been frustrated that the requirement hasn’t been implemented in all schools.

The state superintendent of public instruction will also have to come back to the legislature with recommendations on ways to reduce testing not required by state or federal law if the bill passes. A number of lawmakers blamed local systems for the testing burden K-12 students face.

The bill has a section on improving mental health and suicide prevention protocols and another that lays out a new way for struggling schools to get free of some state regulations.

Systems with a high percentage of restart schools, which are given more flexibility in the hopes of improving student performance, could essentially become restart systems under this legislation, with local boards of education designing their own “comprehensive, innovative strategic vision for sustainable school improvement.”

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