The Bluff City Education blog has put together its Tennessee Legislation Roundup on educational issues.  Meanwhile, it continues its must-read posts about all things education.

Here’s its roundup:

First, What passed:

  • Common Core/PARCC Delay – Common Core standards in Math and ELA will continue, but science and social studies standards will not be implemented this coming year.  Additionally, PARCC assessments will be rolled back until 2015-2016 and the state will explore other alternative testing options.  This option came out of a House/Senate Conference committee at the 11th hour and in general left both sides felling dissatisfied with the outcome.
  • Statewide Charter Authorizer Legislation – A new statewide charter school authorizer with authority over Shelby, Hamilton, Knox, Davidson and Hardeman Counties passed the legislature.  This authorizer can now bypass local school boards and directly authorize charters as it sees fit.  While it struggled at first, it ultimately passed late in session.  This measures takes away some of the ability of local school boards to accept or reject charter applications in these counties.
  • Drive to 55/Tennessee Promise Plan – The governor’s plan to offer free community college tuition to all Tennessee high school graduates passed this session. Read more about the Tennessee Promise here.  This is part of the governor’s initiative to raise college graduation rates to 55 percent of the states population in the coming decade.
  • Prohibitions on Using Test Scores in Teacher Licensing – A bill passed both houses that would prohibit standardized test scores from being tied to teacher licensing decisions.  This bill comes after intense debate this past fall at the state board of education regarding using teacher test scores to deny teacher licenses if they fell too low.  This move prohibits the board from considering such a policy.

Second, what failed:

  • School Vouchers – Once again, a school voucher bill stalled in the legislature and failed to pass this legislative session after it stalled in the house.  This program would have funded vouchers for students in the bottom 5 percent of schools in Tennessee, most in Memphis.  However, proponents all but guarantee that another attempt at vouchers will occur next year.
  • Full Common Core Rollback – in March a coalition attempted to ambush common core supporters with a surprise rollback attempt during debate over a bill regarding teaching the constitution.  This bill passed the House but ultimately failed in the Senate. 
  • For Profit Charter Bill – Tennessee currently prohibits for-profit charter organizations from operating in the state, and a push to authorize these entities was defeated through a push by Beth Harwell and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.  This was notable because it was voted down during a committee meeting that usually schedules votes on the floor with no votes, but this time they failed to schedule the bill.  For profit charters typically have lower student achievement levels than non-profit charter operators, so this vote makes perfect sense from a cost-benefit perspective.
  • A 2 Percent Raise for Teachers – The governor’s proposed 2 percent raise in teacher salaries was withdrawn, violating a promise made by Gov. Haslam before the session began.  Haslam cited an unexpected $160 million budget hole due to less than expected corporate tax revenue as the basis for his decision.  This left teachers across the state feeling understandably upset.
  • Parent Trigger Legislation  – A bill that would have enabled parents to vote to convert public schools into a charter school failed this session.  The proposal would have allowed parents of students in a school in the bottom 10 percent of failing schools to vote to take over the school with a charter authorizer.  They would have needed 51 percent of the vote.

I think that’s everything, please post an update if you notice any smaller bills that I forgot!

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