On Friday, Jan. 22, the legislature completed its Extraordinary Session of the 112th General Assembly. During the session, lawmakers passed $160 million of education bills aimed at improving literacy rates, correcting the loss of in-person learning, and reconciling standardized testing rules disrupted by COVID-19. On Monday, Feb. 8, the assembly will gavel back into regular session and Gov. Bill Lee will deliver his State of the State address. The bill-filing deadline is Feb. 11.
Here is a summary of the bills passed:
- Extends hold harmless provisions from the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year so that students, teachers, schools and districts do not face any negative consequences associated with student assessments.
- Provides parents and educators with assessment data including TCAP testing to provide an accurate picture of where Tennessee students are and what supports are needed to offset any learning losses.
- SB7002/HB7004: “Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act”
- Requires interventions for struggling students such as after-school learning programs, learning loss bridge camps and summer camps.
- Prioritizes students who are lagging in both reading and math proficiency.
- Creates the Tennessee Accelerated Literacy and Learning Corps to provide tutoring for the entirety of the school year.
- Strengthens laws around a third grade reading gate so we no longer advance students who are not prepared.
- SB7003/HB7002: “Tennessee Literacy Success Act”
- Ensures local education agencies (LEAs) use a phonics-based approach for kindergarten through third grade reading instruction.
- Establishes a reader screener for parents and teachers to identify when students need help, well before third grade.
- Provides training and support for educators to teach phonics-based reading instruction.