On February 8th, VSBA staff attended the full committee meeting of Senate Education and Health. Bills of relevance to our organization that were discussed included:
SB 77 (Sturtevant) – This bill would require the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (the Council), in consultation with the Department of Education and each public institution of higher education, to establish (i) quality standards for dual enrollment courses, including quality standards for course instructors, materials, and content; (ii) a process by which dual enrollment courses that meet or exceed such quality standards are certified as universal transfer courses that satisfy course credit or other academic requirements at any public institution of higher education; and (iii) a policy for the satisfaction of course credit or other academic requirements through the successful completion of universal transfer courses by entering students that (a) identifies the course credit or other academic requirements of each public institution of higher education that the student satisfies by successfully completing a universal transfer course and (b) ensures, to the extent possible, that the satisfaction of course credit or other academic requirements is consistent across each public institution of higher education and each such universal transfer course. The provisions of the bill would replace existing provisions that require the Council and each public institution of higher education to establish policies relating to course credit for dual enrollment courses but that do not provide for quality standards or the universal transfer designation for such courses. The committee reported and referred the bill to Senate Finance unanimously (15-0).
SB 169 (Stanley) – A substitute was adopted. The substitute would effectively require VHSL to establish by July 1, 2021, a varsity level robotics team competition program that includes state championships. The substitute also clarifies that it does not require any school to establish a robotics team. The committee reported the substitute (8-7).
SB 170 (Stanley) – This bill was amended to prohibit students in preschool through grade three from being suspended for more than three days or expelled except for drug offenses, firearm offenses, certain criminal acts or in cases in physical harm, threat of physical harm or in cases of aggravated circumstances. VSBA worked with patron to modify the language of this bill in subcommittee. The committee reported the bill (11-4).
SB 349 (Peake) – This bill would require the Board of Education to provide for the issuance of a provisional license, valid for a period not to exceed five years, to any person who does not meet the requirements for licensure imposed by law but who has the appropriate level of experience or training in a critical teacher subject matter shortage area or agrees to teach in a critical teacher geographic area as defined in the Board's regulations. The following teacher licensure bills were incorporated into SB 349: SB 257 (Suetterlein), SB 723 (Peake), SB 409 (McDougle), SB 548 (Dunnavant), SB 549 (Dunnavant), SB 551 (Dunnavant), SB 558 (Dunnavant), and SB 863 (Sturtevant). VSBA supports this bill. The bill contains an emergency clause. The committee reported the bill unanimously (15-0).
SB 302 (Favola) – This bill would provide that a local school board applying for its school division to be designated as a School Division of Innovation may apply to the Board of Education (Board) to replace certain Standards of Learning assessments with performance-based assessments. The bill would require the Board to determine if the local school board has the capacity to administer and score performance-based assessments and provides criteria for such determination. Under the bill, any proposed performance-based assessment would be required to be an adequate replacement of the relevant Standards of Learning assessment by requiring that students demonstrate the knowledge and skills required by the relevant Standards of Learning and one or more of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, or citizenship. The standards of learning assessments eligible for replacement are (i) Virginia Studies, (ii) Civics and Economics, (iii) elementary school science, and (iv) middle school science. The bill would require the Board to promulgate any necessary regulations and to submit to the U.S. Department of Education any necessary amendments to its consolidated State plan. The committee incorporated SB 437 (Wexton) into this bill. The committee voted unanimously to pass the bill by indefinitely with a letter of referral to the Committee on the Future of Public Education (15-0).
SB 491 (Sturtevant) – This bill would reduce the total number and type of required Standards of Learning assessments to the minimum requirements established by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, P.L. 89-10, as amended. The bill requires the Department of Education to calculate any potential or realized savings from the implementation of the bill and to report the amount of such savings to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance by November 1, 2019. Such amount shall be included in the total for Direct Aid to Public Education in any general appropriation act for fiscal years 2021 and 2022. The committee voted unanimously to pass the bill by indefinitely (15-0).
SB 605 (Ebbin) – This bill would prohibit any person who is an employee, contractor, or agent of a public school or accredited private school from assisting an employee, contractor, or agent in obtaining a new job if such person knows or has probable cause to believe that such employee, contractor, or agent engaged in sexual misconduct regarding a minor or student. The committee reported the bill (14-0) with one abstention.
SB 664 (McPike) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in its graduation requirements, to permit a passing score on an industry certification approved by the local school board or any instruction received, coursework completed, or study toward achieving such passing score to count toward the requirement for a student to receive 140 clock hours of instruction for any course, regardless of subject matter relevance, provided that such achievement, instruction, coursework, or study occurs after the student has completed the course curriculum and relevant Standards of Learning assessment. The committee reported the bill unanimously with a substitute (15-0).
SB 786 (Surovell) – This bill would provide that no student shall be charged tuition or fees for enrolling in any online course or virtual program that is required or is offered by the school division in which he resides. The bill also would provide that no local school board can offer and no student can be required to take any online course or virtual program unless every student enrolled in the course is provided or offered, free of charge, a computer or other electronic device necessary to take the course. Further, the bill would provide an exception for the high school graduation requirement to take a virtual course if such requirements are not met. The committee reported the bill with a substitute unanimously (14-0).
SB 936 (Wagner) – This bill would direct the Board of Education to establish the Standards of Achievement Career and Technical Education Committee (Committee) to make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Board of Education to facilitate the development of career and technical education Standards of Achievement, including accreditation standards, assessment testing, and course content and curriculum for participating schools, with a focus on (i) rigorous standards and course content and curriculum that align workforce skills with industry-recognized standards; (ii) robust business and industry engagement and responsiveness to labor market needs; (iii) strategies to remove the stigma from career and technical education, including early exposure to career options and life skills; (iv) work-based learning and apprenticeships; (v) innovative high school models; and (vi) leveraging existing resources and programs in the Commonwealth. The Committee shall identify any necessary changes to statutory and regulatory provisions, including existing requirements regarding (a) instructional programs; (b) instructional, administrative, and, support personnel; (c) accreditation; (d) assessments; (e) graduation requirements; (f) teacher licensure; and (g) dual enrollment. The bill would require the Committee to report its findings and recommendation to the General Assembly and the Board of Education by November 1, 2018. The committee voted unanimously to carry the bill over to 2019 with a referral to the Commission on the Future of Public Education (15-0).
Following this discussion, VSBA attended the afternoon meeting of the Senate Committee on Education and Health Subcommittee Public Education. The Senate has begun considering some of the bills that have made their way through the House. Bills of relevance discussed included:
H.B. 81 (Krizek) – This bill, as introduced, would have eliminated the requirement that school boards appoint a new division superintendent (i) within 180 days after a vacancy occurs or (ii) within 60 days after an appointed division superintendent who has not yet assumed his office is granted a release from such appointment. The bill was amended to allow the school board to receive an extension of time within which to appoint a division superintendent, upon request. VSBA supports this bill. The subcommittee recommended this bill for reporting (4-0).
H.B. 329 (Yancey) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to permit students to exceed a full course load in order to participate in courses offered by an institution of higher education that lead to a degree, certificate, or credential at such institution. The bill has an emergency clause. The subcommittee voted to send this bill to the full committee without recommendation (4-0) as the patron wasn’t present due to a concurrent committee meeting.
H.B. 330 (Yancey) – This bill would permit any public elementary or secondary school student to possess and use topical sunscreen on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event without a note or prescription from a licensed health care professional if the topical sunscreen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for nonprescription use for the purpose of limiting damage to skin caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. The subcommittee voted to send this bill to the full committee without recommendation (4-0) as the patron wasn’t present due to a concurrent committee meeting.
H.B. 399 (Keam) – This bill would require each school board to implement a plan to notify students and their parents of the availability of internships, externships, apprenticeships, credentialing programs, certification programs, licensure programs, and other work-based learning experiences. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (5-0).
H.B. 442 (Carroll Foy) – This bill would require the Department of Education to develop, maintain, and make available to each local school board a catalogue of the testing accommodations available to English language learners for each certification, examination, assessment, and battery that satisfies the career and technical education credential graduation requirement. The bill would require each local school board to develop and implement policies to ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, any such testing accommodation is made available to each English language learner in the local school division who participates in the relevant certification, examination, assessment, or battery. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2019. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (5-0).
H.B. 507 (Mullin) – This bill would provide that (i) the instructional programs for students with limited English proficiency implemented by each local school board may include dual language programs whereby such students receive instruction in English and in a second language and (ii) the additional full-time equivalent instructional positions for students identified as having limited English proficiency that are funded pursuant to the general appropriation act may include dual language teachers who provide instruction in English and in a second language. VSBA spoke in favor of the bill. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (5-0).
H.B. 809 (O'Quinn) – This bill would permit local school boards to display advertising material on the sides of school buses between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus, provided that no such material (i) obstructs the name of the school division or the number of the school bus, (ii) is sexually explicit, or (iii) pertains to alcohol; food or beverages that do not meet the nutrition standards developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 or any additional state or local nutrition standards for food or beverages sold to students in school; gambling; politics; or tobacco. The subcommittee voted to send this bill to the full committee without recommendation (4-0) as the patron wasn’t present due to a concurrent committee meeting.
Lastly, VSBA staff attended the afternoon meeting of the Senate Finance Committee. Two bills of note to VSBA were addressed:
SB 631 (Dunnavant) – This bill would make several changes to the Virginia Community College System to ensure a standard quality of education at all comprehensive community colleges, and to ensure in the transfer of community college credit to four-year public institutions of higher education in order to provide higher education as efficiently and cost effective as possible. The bill would require the development of a standard Passport Program and a Uniform Certificate of General Studies program to be offered at each community college. Initially, the Passport Program course offerings would be accepted as credit at a four-year institution, unless a four-year institution had applied for and received a waiver from accepting a particular course for a particular major, with a goal of making all courses in the Uniform Certificate transferrable. Four-year institutions, in cooperation with the Community College System, would be required to map out career education pathways to allow students to see the classes necessary to complete a four-year degree in a particular field of study. The Virginia Community College System would be required to create a single online repository where the public may access all transfer agreements and dual enrollment agreements with four-year institutions. Finally, the State Board for Community Colleges would be required to implement an annual review for each community college, and to standardize the course offerings across the community college system. The bill incorporates SB 77 (Sturtevant). The committee reported the bill unanimously (16-0).
SB 516 (Obenshain) – This bill would authorize the Board of Education (the Board) to establish regional charter school divisions consisting of at least two but not more than three existing school divisions in regions in which each underlying school division has (i) an enrollment of more than 3,000 students and (ii) one or more schools that have accreditation denied status for two out of the past three years. The bill would require such regional charter school divisions to be supervised by a school board that consists of eight members appointed by the Board and one member appointed by the localities of each of the underlying divisions. The bill would authorize the school board, after a review by the Board, to review and approve public charter school applications in the regional charter school divisions and to contract with the applicant. The bill would require that the state share of Standards of Quality per pupil funding of the underlying school district in which the student resides be transferred to such school. VSBA strongly opposes the bill. The committee voted unanimously to carry the bill over until 2019.