Lawmakers made moves Thursday to change Mississippi’s academic standards and method of statewide testing.
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed House Bill 385, effectively opting out Mississippi out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 116-3.
Seven legislators authored the bill, including Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton.
"With the passage of HB 385 today and the two bills we passed last week, we have now opted out of PARCC, returned control of curriculum to local school districts and removed any federal control over curriculum and assessments,” Gunn said. “Again, the passage of these bills ensures that Mississippi's education decisions will be made by Mississippians."
This and other recent Gunn victories comes on the heels of a previous Mississippi Board of Education's action Jan. 16 to withdraw from the PARCC consortium.
Still, legislation to rid Mississippi schools of Common Core standards and create new standards is pushing onward in the Senate. On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 2161 which creates a task force with the goal of establishing new academic standards for the state.
Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, told the Jackson Free Press on Jan. 22 that he does not anticipate that the Department of Education will throw out Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards, nor does he think it should.
“We can’t continue this slide. I’m sure the federal government would discourage us from backing down our standards,” Moore said. “(The districts) have been working really hard out there, training teachers to ramp up to the new standards, and now would not be a good time just to throw them out.”
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said SB 2161, sponsored by Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, will create the highest academic standards in the nation.
“For too long, the system has placed low expectations on students. I believe if we set the bar high enough, Mississippi schoolchildren will sail over it,” Reeves said.
Carmichael said parents and educators that she has spoken to are concerned about Common Core and that her bill will include more input from Mississippians on the state standards, while Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, simply stressed the need to kill Common Core.
“I believe more experts in Mississippi should be involved in writing academic standards for our students. This is a good first step in killing Common Core and creating better standards,” Hill said.
SB 2161 would also limit the amount of money the state could spend on testing.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.