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News & Press: General News

State Board of Education Meets

Friday, June 12, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly Riley
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The State Board of Education held its monthly meeting via livestream yesterday.  The following were among the various agenda items and discussions:


Assessment Contract Savings:  In response to questions raised during previous board meetings, MDE staff briefed the board on anticipated savings from state assessment contracts due to COVID-19.  Assessment vendors have offered $2,467,175 in savings on the $14,008,467 School Year 2019-20 contracts and $1,605,235 in savings on the $13,784,137 School Year 2020-21 contracts.


Digital Learning Plan:  MDE staff briefed the board on the needs assessment of local districts regarding MDE’s proposed digital learning plan.  As I shared on May 15, MDE estimates the plan will cost $250 million in its first year for equipment, licenses and professional development.  Staff reported that the needs assessment reinforced this estimate.  Districts requested 350,000 devices, with the majority of these being Chrome Books.


Dual Credit Courses:  The board approved the Commission on Accreditation’s request to begin the APA process to revise Section 9, Acceleration of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards.  The proposed revision provides that, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, schools must enter non-weighted course grades for dual credit courses in MSIS.  These non-weighted grades will be used in the performance measures for dual credit courses. 


Flexibility for 2020-2021 School Year: The board suspended several policies to give local school districts scheduling flexibility for the 2020-21 school year to deal with the impact of COVID-19:


  • For the 2020-21 school year, districts may meet the 180-day teaching requirement by implementing one or more of three scheduling options for operating schools: traditional, virtual or a hybrid of in-person and distance learning. The types of schedules may vary among schools in the same district to meet the different learning needs of students in elementary, middle and high school.
  • To help districts develop class schedules, the number of daily instructional hours required has been reduced from 5.5 hours to 4 hours per day.
  • For high school courses that offer Carnegie unit credit, the 140-hour instructional requirement for one-credit courses and the 70-hour instructional requirement for half-credit courses will be waived if the district develops a plan to ensure students master the course content. The plan must be approved by the local school board and posted on the district’s website by September 30, 2020.
  • The board also suspended the policy requiring districts to seek a waiver from the SBE or the Commission on School Accreditation if they are unable to comply with state-mandated student-teacher ratios.


For a complete list of policy suspensions for the 2020-21 school year, view the policy suspension chart (NOTE: Scroll to page 4 of the document for the chart).  Black font indicates previous action taken by the board in response to COVID-19, while red font indicates action taken by the board yesterday.


Earlier this week, the MDE released Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools, which outlines a three-month timeline of strategies for superintendents and principals to consider to plan for the start of the 2020-21 school year. The document is intended to be used as a resource and starting point for districts to consider local needs in collaboration with stakeholders. It will be updated in three-month intervals to adjust to changes with the COVID-19 outbreak.