2012 Regular Session

To: Education

By: Representative Scott

House Bill 233



     SECTION 1.  (1)  This act shall be known and may be cited as "Vision 2020:  An Education Blueprint for Two Thousand Twenty."

     (2)  The Legislature finds that:

          (a)  Because the State of Mississippi faces obstacles such as lower family income levels and lower parent education levels, the state must do even more to compete with other states to increase student achievement and ensure that high school graduates are prepared fully for postsecondary education or gainful employment;

          (b)  A clear plan that includes goals, objectives, strategies, indicators and benchmarks is needed in order to keep the state's education system on track for success; and

          (c)  In order to eliminate any confusion, these goals, objectives, strategies, indicators and benchmarks for public education should be set forth in one (1) rule that is promulgated by the State Board of Education pursuant to this section and which meets the requirements of this section.

     (3)  The purpose of this act is to require that this clear plan be established as part of Vision 2020:  An Education Blueprint for Two Thousand Twenty.

     SECTION 2.  The following words and phrases have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

          (a)  "Goals" means those long-term public purposes which are the desired and expected end result and may include only those items listed in Section 3.

          (b)  "Objectives" means the ends to be accomplished or attained within a specified period of time for the purpose of meeting the established goals.

          (c)  "Strategies" means specific activities carried out by the public education system which are directed toward accomplishing specific objectives.

     SECTION 3.  (1)  The State Board of Education shall promulgate a rule that includes the following:

          (a)  The goals set forth in this act and no other goals;

          (b)  At least those objectives set forth in this section and specified periods of time for achieving those objectives and any other objectives that may be included in the rule;

          (c)  Strategies for achieving the specific objectives;

          (d)  Indicators for measuring progress toward the goals and objectives established in this section; and

          (e)  Benchmarks for determining when the goals and objectives have been achieved.

     (2)  The rule must include the following list of exclusive goals for the public education system in Mississippi:

          (a)  Academic achievement according to national and international measures will exceed national and international averages.  These national and international measures should include scores on assessments such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the ACT and the SAT;

          (b)  The public education system will prepare fully all students for postsecondary education or gainful employment;

          (c)  All working-age adults will be functionally literate;

          (d)  The public education system will maintain and promote the health and safety of all students and will develop and promote responsibility, citizenship and strong character in all students; and

          (e)  The public education system will provide equitable education opportunities to all students.

     (3)  The rule also must include at least the following policy-oriented objectives:

          (a)  Rigorous twenty-first century curriculum and engaging instruction for all students.  All students in Mississippi public schools should have access to and benefit from a rigorous twenty-first century curriculum that develops proficiency in core subjects, twenty-first century content, learning skills and technology tools.  These students also should have that curriculum delivered through engaging, research-based instructional strategies that develop deep understanding and the ability to apply content to real-world situations;

          (b)  A twenty-first century accountability and accreditation system.  The prekindergarten through Grade 12 education system should have a public accrediting system that:  holds local school districts accountable for the student outcomes that the state values; and provides the public with understandable accountability data for judging the quality of local schools.  The outcomes on which the system is based should be rigorous and should align with national and international standards such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the ACT and the SAT.  The broad standards established for these outcomes should include a focus on mastery of basic skills by all students, closing the achievement gap among student subgroups, and high levels of proficiency in a wide range of desired twenty-first century measures and processes.  The system for determining school and district accreditation should include school and district self-analysis and generate appropriate research-based strategies for improvement.  It also should allow opportunities to create innovative approaches to instructional delivery and design.  The system will incorporate processes for encouraging innovation, including financial support for successful initiatives and recognition of those practices that can be brought to a district or statewide scale.  Although the primary goal of the accreditation system is to drive school improvement, it also will serve as a basis for rewards, sanctions and interventions.

          (c)  A statewide balanced assessment process that includes an individualized student data management system.  State, district, school and classroom decisionmaking should be grounded in twenty-first century balanced assessment processes that reflect national and international rigorous performance standards and examine student proficiency in twenty-first century content, skills and technology tools.  A balanced assessment system includes statewide summative assessments, local benchmark assessments and classroom assessments for learning.  Mississippi's assessment system also should include international benchmarking processes that allow comparison of Mississippi's performance to international performance.  To effectively use assessment data, principals and teachers should be provided ready access to results through student digital data profiles that individually track student performance and provide educators with diagnostic information necessary to make appropriate instructional decisions on behalf of students.

          (d)  A personnel allocation, licensure and funding process that aligns with the needs of twenty-first century school systems and is supported by a quality coordinated professional development delivery system.  Increased accountability demands, as well as the focus on twenty-first century learning, require a reexamination of traditional approaches to personnel allocation, licensure and funding.  Creating schools of the twenty-first century requires new staffing roles and staffing patterns.  It also requires ongoing professional development activities focused on enhancing student achievement and achieving specific goals of the school and district strategic plans.  Thus, schools should have the ability to access, organize and deliver high quality embedded professional development that provides staff with in-depth sustained and supported learning.  Effective school improvement should be supported by a flexible school calendar that allows opportunity for staff to collectively learn, plan and implement curricular and instructional improvements on behalf of the students they serve.

          (e)  School environments that promote safe, healthy and responsible behavior and provide an integrated system of student support services.  Each school should create an environment focused on student learning and one where students know they are valued, respected and safe.  Furthermore, the school should incorporate programs and processes that instill healthy, safe and responsible behaviors and prepare students for interactions with individuals of diverse racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  School and district processes should include a focus on developing ethical and responsible character, personal dispositions that promote personal wellness through planned daily physical activity and healthy eating habits consistent with high nutritional guidelines and multicultural experiences that develop an appreciation of and respect for diversity.  The school and school district also should address the needs of students who arrive at school with social, emotional and physical needs that require specialized and diverse services.  School districts should have the capability to access, manage and deliver services to these students in an organized integrated system that taps the resources of both the school and the broader community.

          (f)  A leadership recruitment, development and support continuum.  Mississippi should have an aligned leadership professional development continuum that attracts, develops and supports educational leadership at the classroom, school and district level.  This leadership development continuum should focus on creating:  (i) learning-centered schools and school systems; (ii) collaborative processes for staff learning and continuous improvement; and (iii) accountability measures for student achievement.

          (g)  Equitable access to twenty-first century technology and education resources and school facilities conducive to twenty-first century teaching and learning.  A quality educational system of the twenty-first century should have access to technology tools and processes that enhance effective and efficient operation.  Administrators should have the digital resources to monitor student performance, manage a variety of data and communicate effectively.  In the classroom, every teacher in every school should be provided with the instructional resources and educational technology necessary to deliver the Mississippi content standard and objectives.  Schools of the twenty-first century require facilities that accommodate changing technologies, twenty-first century instructional processes and twenty-first century staffing needs and patterns.  These school facilities should mirror the best in green construction and must be environmentally and educationally responsive to the communities in which they are located.

          (h)  Aligned public school with postsecondary and workplace readiness programs and standards.  An educational system in the twenty-first century should be seen as a continuum from the public school (prekindergarten through Grade 12 program) through postsecondary education.  In order to be successful in a global competitive marketplace, learning should be an ongoing, lifelong experience.  Thus, the public schools and the state institutions of higher learning in Mississippi should create a system of common standards, expectations and accountability to enhance opportunities for success and assure a seamless educational process for Mississippi students; and

          (i)  A universal prekindergarten system.  Every eligible student should be enrolled in a high quality, universal prekindergarten system.  The system should promote oral language and preliteracy skills in order to reduce the deficit of these foundational skills through proactive, early intervention.  Local school districts should create the supports and provide the resources to assure a quality prekindergarten foundation is available to all eligible students.
     (4)  In addition to the policy-oriented objectives set forth in subsection (3) of this section, the rule established pursuant to this section also must include at least the following performance oriented objectives:
          (a)  All children entering the first grade will be ready for the first grade;

          (b)  The performance of students falling in the lowest quartile on national and international measures of student performance will improve by fifty percent (50%);
          (c)  Ninety percent (90%) of ninth graders will graduate from high school;
          (d)  By the year 2014, the ten (10) counties with the lowest college-attendance rates as of July 1, 2012, will increase their college-attendance rate to the 2014 state average and the college-attendance rate of the state will equal the college-attendance rate of the member states of the Southern Regional Education Board; and
          (e)  By the year 2020, the ten (10) counties with the lowest college-attendance rates as of July 1, 2012, will increase their college-attendance rate to the 2020 college-attendance rate of the member states of the Southern Regional Education Board, and the college-attendance rate of the state will exceed the college-attendance rate of the member states of the Southern Regional Education Board by five (5) percentage points.

     SECTION 4.  (1)  It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to establish state goals for public higher education which benefit the citizens of the State of Mississippi.

     (2)  It is further the intent of the Legislature that this section be read and implemented in conjunction with the accountability system established in Section 5 of this act.

     (3)  The Legislature finds that postsecondary education is vital to the future of Mississippi.  For the state to realize its considerable potential in the twenty-first century, it must have a system for the delivery of postsecondary education which is competitive in the changing national and global environment, is affordable for the state and its citizenry and has the capacity to deliver the programs and services necessary to meet regional and statewide needs.

     The Legislature further finds that it is vitally important for young people entering the workforce to have the education and skills to succeed in today's high-technology, knowledge-based economy.  It is equally important for working-age adults who are the majority of the current and potential workforce also to possess the requisite education and skills to compete successfully in the workplace and to have the opportunity to continue learning throughout their lives.  The future of the state rests not only on how well its youth are educated, but also on how well it educates its entire population of any age.

     The Legislature further finds that providing access to a high-quality and affordable postsecondary education is a state responsibility and that states are not maximizing their investment in higher education.  The Legislature recognizes the efforts of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education in producing a report to assist the states in higher education policymaking.  The Legislature acknowledges that according to the commission report, "Transforming Higher Education:  National Imperative -- State Responsibility," the United States is losing its competitive advantage in a new, high-tech, highly mobile global economy and that this lack of competitiveness is a matter of the highest urgency for federal and state policymakers.  The report goes on to add that "higher education is both the problem and the solution" because the nation has failed to focus on how higher education energizes American competitiveness and revitalizes the states.  Pursuant to these findings, the commission made some specific recommendations addressed to the states, which include the following:

          (a)  Define clear state goals;

          (b)  Identify your state's strengths and weaknesses;

          (c)  Know your state demographic trends for the next ten (10) to thirty (30) years;

          (d)  Identify a place or structure to sustain the public policy agenda;

          (e)  Hold institutions accountable for their performance;

          (f)  Rethink funding formulas and student aid;

          (g)  Make a commitment to access, success and innovation;

          (h)  Encourage partnerships;

          (i)  Give special attention to adult learners; and
          (j)  Focus on productivity.

     The Legislature declares that all of these recommendations are useful in providing policy guidance and have been given careful consideration in the development of this section.

     SECTION 5.   In recognition of its importance to the citizens of Mississippi, the Legislature establishes the following goals for public higher education in the state:

          (a)  The ultimate goal of public education is to enhance the quality of life for citizens of the State of Mississippi.

          (b)  The overall focus of public education is on developing and maintaining a process of lifelong learning which is as seamless as possible at all levels, encourages citizens of all ages to increase their knowledge and skills and provides ample opportunities for them to participate in public higher education.

          (c)  Higher education collaborates with public education and other providers to offer education opportunities:

              (i)  To individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds in all areas of the state; and

              (ii)  To overcome financial barriers to participation for both traditional and nontraditional students.

          (d)  Higher education seeks to enhance state efforts to diversify and expand the economy by focusing available resources on programs and courses that best serve students, provide the greatest opportunity for job creation and retention and are most supportive of emerging high-technology and knowledge-based businesses and industries.

          (e)  Higher education creates a learning environment that is student-friendly and that encourages and assists students in the completion of degree requirements, certifications or skill sets within a reasonable period of time.

          (f)  The learning environment expands participation for the increasingly diverse student population and responds to the needs of the current workforce and other nontraditional students.

          (g)  Through the establishment of innovative curricula and assessment efforts, state institutions of higher learning ensure that students graduate from nationally recognized and accredited programs and meet or exceed national and international standards for performance in their chosen fields as evidenced through placement and professional licensure examinations.

          (h)  Higher education promotes academic research and innovation to achieve measurable growth in Mississippi's knowledge-based economic sector.

          (i)  State institutions of higher learning emphasize productivity and strive to exceed the performance and productivity levels of peer institutions.  In return, and within the constraints of fiscal responsibility, the state seeks to invest in institutions so that they may adequately compensate faculty, classified employees and other employees at a competitive level to attract and retain high quality personnel.

          (j)  State institutions of higher learning are committed to a shared responsibility with faculty, staff, students and their communities to provide access to the knowledge and to promote acquisition of the skills and abilities necessary to establish and maintain physical fitness and wellness.

              (i)  Programs that encourage healthy lifestyles are essential for the vibrancy of the institutions of higher learning, for the well-being of the communities they serve and for the state as a whole.

              (ii)  Increasing the fitness levels of adults on college and university campuses is critically important for the people of Mississippi, not only for disease prevention, but also, and perhaps most importantly, to enhance the overall quality of life.

              (iii)  While individuals must bear the primary responsibility for their own health, it is imperative that the institutions provide appropriate education and support focused on enriching and expanding the short and long­term views and attitudes toward physical activity, understanding the principles of wellness and their application to a healthy lifestyle, understanding what components are a necessary part of an all-round healthy lifestyle and learning how to set and achieve realistic goals aimed at establishing healthy habits for the benefit of long-term health and well-being.

     SECTION 6.  (1)  The State of Mississippi must create and participate in a partnership across various education organizations which recognizes the valuable contributions each member of the group can make.  In addition to public education in Mississippi, and in addition to the State of Mississippi, key members of this partnership must include the state institutions of higher learning, community and junior colleges, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

     (2)  The state institutions of higher learning and community and junior colleges must serve as the cornerstone of efforts to provide higher education services that meet the needs of state citizens.  To varying degrees, and depending upon their missions, these institutions must serve the state in three (3) major ways:

          (a)  Instruction.  By providing direct instruction to students along with the student services necessary to support the instructional mission.  These services have two (2) primary goals:
              (i)  To produce college graduates who have the knowledge, skills and desire to make valuable contributions to society; and

              (ii)  To provide opportunities for citizens to engage in lifelong learning to enhance their employability and their overall quality of life.

          (b)  Public service.  By providing an occupational home for experts in a variety of fields and by serving as the educational home for students.  In these capacities, institutions shall create a large and varied pool of high quality human resources capable of making valuable contributions to business and industry, local and state governments and communities.  The following are examples of the types of public service that higher education institutions must offer:

              (i)  Workforce development, primarily through community and junior colleges, to meet the immediate and long-term needs of employers and employees;

              (ii)  Technical assistance to state and local policymakers as they work to address challenges as diverse as ensuring that Mississippi's citizens receive quality health care, assisting in the development of a solid transportation infrastructure and ensuring that public school teachers have enriching professional development opportunities; and

              (iii)  Opportunities to learn and serve in local communities, to teach civic responsibility and to encourage civic engagement.

          (c)  Research.  By conducting research at state institutions of higher learning, to enhance the quality of life in Mississippi in the following ways:

              (i)  Targeting cutting-edge research toward solving pressing societal problems;

              (ii)  Promoting economic development by raising the level of education and specialization among the population; and

              (iii)  Creating jobs through development of new products and services.

     (3)  In their role as state-level coordinating boards, the State Board for Community Colleges and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning must function as important partners with state policy leaders in providing higher education that meets state needs.  The boards shall provide service to the state in the following ways:

          (a)  By developing a public policy agenda for various aspects of higher education which is aligned with state goals and objectives and by defining the role and responsibilities of each coordinating board;

          (b)  By ensuring that institutional missions and goals are aligned with relevant parts of the public policy agenda and that institutions maximize the resources available to them to fulfill their missions and make reasonable progress toward meeting established state goals;

          (c)  By evaluating and reporting on progress in implementing the public policy agenda;

          (d)  By promoting system efficiencies through collaboration and cooperation across institutions and through focusing institutional missions as appropriate; and

          (e)  By conducting research, collecting data and providing objective recommendations to aid elected state officials in making policy decisions.

     (4)  Elected state-level policymakers shall serve the state in the following ways:

          (a)  By establishing goals, objectives and priorities for higher education based on a thoughtful, systematic determination of state needs;

          (b)  By providing resources necessary to address state goals, objectives and priorities for higher education; and

          (c)  By providing incentives for and removing barriers to the achievement of state goals, objectives and priorities.

     SECTION 7.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2012.