1998 Regular Session
To: Rules; Education
By: Senator(s) Farris, Burton, Gollott, Furniss, Browning, Carlton, Mettetal, Frazier, Smith, Huggins, Jackson, Rayborn
Senate Concurrent Resolution 536
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION TO ENCOURAGE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO TAKE CERTAIN ACTIONS TO FOSTER AND FACILITATE ACADEMIC SUCCESS FOR STUDENTS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND TO INVESTIGATE AND UTILIZE CERTAIN STRATEGIES TO REACH THESE GOALS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, while Mississippi has the second highest percentage of children who live in poverty in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) region, it also has one of the highest percentages of three- and four-year-olds attending preschool of any SREB state. In Mississippi, Head Start (approximately 24,100 enrolled in 1994) and state funded preschool programs (approximately 2,000 enrolled in 1994) serve about the same percentage of three- and four-year-olds as the percentage living in poverty; and
WHEREAS, the scores of Mississippi students on student achievement tests have neither risen nor dropped dramatically in the 1990's; and
WHEREAS, there continue to be large gaps in the achievement levels of students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds; and
WHEREAS, the average ratio of Mississippi school counselors to elementary students is 1:870, which ranges from 1 counselor for 318 to 3,726 students, and approximately 25% of school districts report a ratio of 1 counselor to more than 1,000 elementary school students, which ratio is too high to reap the full benefits of elementary school counseling programs; and
WHEREAS, research demonstrates that early exposure to comprehensive school counseling services can result in improved academic success, lower dropout rates, and better interpersonal skills; and
WHEREAS, a multitude of societal stressors such as divorce, crime, peer pressure, poverty, substance abuse and gang influences make academic achievement difficult for many Mississippi children; and
WHEREAS, staff in-service training provided by school counselors can result in more effective teaching and behavior management; and
WHEREAS, lack of prevention and early intervention can lead to unemployment, a need for public assistance, treatment or institutionalization for mental health reasons, involvement with the judicial system, and possibly imprisonment for civil or criminal convictions:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MISSISSIPPI STATE SENATE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That
we do hereby encourage the State Department of Education to accomplish the following objectives:
1. Develop and implement an appropriate tool and method to be utilized in a pilot program designed to assess pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in Mississippi public schools for the earliest possible identification of cognitive deficiencies.
2. Develop and implement a pilot developmental learning program designed to address cognitive deficiencies identified in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in Mississippi public schools.
3. Recommend the increased availability of properly trained, degreed and certificated elementary reading instructors in kindergarten and lower elementary grades for the express purpose of more effective developmental education and remediation. Local school districts are encouraged to use uncommitted MAEP at-risk funds for elementary reading instructors, as well as discretionary supportive services funds available through the minimum education program during the phase-in period.
4. Study the core curricula utilized in Mississippi public schools with a view to eliminating any unnecessary and/or overlapping curricular requirements which unduly reduce time spent on essential tasks by educators.
5. Recommend and stress utilization of extended-school-day and extended-school-year programs for developmental and remedial education purposes in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the State Superintendent of Education and the State Board of Education.