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In addition to addressing three major areas of education reform focused increase school choice for Missouri families, the Missouri legislature will also be considering a number of bills which could improve the quality of educational offerings and transparency and accountability for school districts in 2018.
Increasing access to computer science courses throughout the state is the focus of a number of bills in both the House and Senate.
Representative’s Travis Fitzwater and Jeanie Lauer address the issue in a variety of ways in bills filed in the House.
Lauer’s HB1457 would require every high school to offer a course on computer programing after the 2018-19 school year.
Fitzwater’s HB1623 would allow high school students to fulfill one required credit of math or science with a computer science course, but would also set the groundwork for statewide standards for computer science and create a path for teachers to get special license endorsements in computer science. Fitzwater’s bill would also create a Computer Science Education Fund to help pay for teacher training in computer science and create a STEM Career Awareness Program to increase STEM career awareness among students in grades six through eight. Senator Ryan Silvey’s SB571 would also allow high school students to fulfill one required credit of math or science with a computer science course.
Senator Ed Emery is working to make it easier for families to assess the quality of their schools with SB 643. The bill would require the State Board of Education to develop a simplified annual school report card with a simple letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F based on the percentage of points earned on six academic performance indicators.
In the House, a number of bills seek to improve financial transparency, improve state testing procedures and provide new programs aimed at increasing student success.
Representative Chrissy Sommer’s HB 1370 would require every district to maintain an accountability portal which would provide the public with quarterly updated data financial data including budget, income, expenditures, and disbursements. Sommer has also introduced two bills that would improve education for gifted students. HB1435 would require school districts to establish special programs for gifted children when a sufficient number of children are determined to be gifted, and HB1371 would give families the right to appeal decisions on whether or not their children qualify to participate in a gifted education program.
Representative Mike Kelley’s HB1417 would create a reading intervention program for K-3 students who exhibit a reading deficiency. By the 2020-21 school year, third-grade students would be required to demonstrate sufficient reading skills before promotion.
Finally, Representative Jered Taylor’s HB1412 Would probit the state from changing statewide assessment tests until the tests had been used for at least five consecutive years, a move that would eliminate the ongoing issue with not being able to hold schoold districts acocuntable for performance losses because of year-toyear changes in state tests.