2016 Regular Session
By: Representatives Holloway, Karriem, Bell (65th)
AN ACT TO ENCOURAGE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS; TO PROVIDE THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH INFORMATION AND TOOLS SHALL BE PROVIDED TO PARENTS OF STUDENTS IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE 12; TO SET STANDARDS FOR PARENTAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND SPECIFYING CAUSES FOR STUDENT UNDERACHIEVEMENT; PROVIDING PRINCIPLES ON WHICH PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IS BASED; TO PROVIDE STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH REQUIRED SHARED INFORMATION BETWEEN TEACHERS, SCHOOLS AND PARENTS; TO REQUIRE TEACHERS TO ASSIGN A PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT GRADE ON STUDENT REPORT CARDS; TO REQUIRING THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS TO ADOPT AN APPEALS PROCESS; TO REQUIRE THE SCHOOL BOARDS OF DISTRICTS WITH A "C," "D" OR "F" ACCREDITATION RATING TO ADOPT CERTAIN POLICIES RELATING TO THE DAILY CURRICULUM, HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS AND OTHER PROCEDURES FOR STUDENT IMPROVEMENT AND PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT FOR TRADITIONAL AND ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROGRAMS OF EDUCATION; TO REQUIRE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO CONDUCT A BASIC NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF STUDENTS DEMONSTRATING BEHAVIORAL EPISODES OR REFERRED TO THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL SETTING; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
WHEREAS, parent accountability has decreased, and efforts undertaken to increase parental involvement is critical to improving student academic performance, addressing student misbehavior and monitoring daily attendance; and
WHEREAS, it has been determined that legislative policies are enacted which specify: purposes to provide information and tools to parents of K-12 students and to set standards for parental accountability; causes for student underachievement; principles on which parental involvement is based and strategies to improve student achievement; requirements for shared information between teachers, schools and parents; requirements for K-3 teachers to assign parental involvement grade on student report cards; and requirements for an appeals process; and
WHEREAS, although the school environment has a great impact on a child's well-being and academic success, parents and the home environment form the foundation of a child's present and future life; and
WHEREAS, parental involvement is most effective when it is comprehensive, well planned, and continues throughout the school year, and without proper parental involvement in all aspects of a child's life, the child's prospects to be a well-equipped and useful member of society are greatly diminished; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The purpose of this act is to provide information and tools to parents of students enrolled in kindergarten through Grade 12 to enable them to have a positive impact on their child's educational success and to set standards for parental accountability.
SECTION 2. (1) (a) Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, each local school district having an accreditation rating of "D" or "F" shall develop a policy for use by professional school counselors to recognize and address the following behaviors with respect to the relationship between a child's home and school are identified as possible causes for a student's underachievement:
(i) A child is not physically prepared for the school day due to inadequate rest or improper clothing, lack of necessary school supplies, or frequent tardiness or absence;
(ii) A child is not mentally prepared for the school day due to uncompleted homework or inadequate preparation for tests; and
(iii) Communication between parents and the teacher is often written rather than through personal contact and often occurs only when a problem has arisen rather than on a consistent basis throughout the school year.
(b) School districts that have been designated with an "A," "B" or "C" accreditation rating shall have the discretion to implement parental involvement and accountability practices upon a decision of the local school board to opt in for the use of such practices.
(2) The policy adopted by local school boards opting to implement parental involvement and accountability practices shall:
(a) Be inclusive of measures to be implemented to provide developmental parental involvement with a preventive rather than remedial approach and an integral part of a strategy to improve student achievement;
(b) Not require parents to be formally educated on approaches to provide support and assistance to improve the academic performance of their child; and
(c) Include intensive intervention to address at-risk children of the district, who have the most to gain from parental involvement.
(3) Parents are encouraged to support the learning of their children and improve student achievement through:
(a) Attendance of parent-teacher conferences as requested by district and school during which the student's strengths and weaknesses are discussed and goals for the student are collaboratively set;
(b) Maintaining correspondence with the child's teachers through submission of signed forms and signed homework assignments and respond to formal requests for conferences with teachers;
(c) Contacting the teacher if a problem or issue arises with homework, a situation in the home that may disturb the student's performance, or absences and make-up assignments; and
(d) Providing for the student's on-time attendance, prevent frequent absences and ensuring the student is equipped with necessary school supplies.
SECTION 3. (1) Teachers and schools in districts that have opted to implement parental involvement and accountability practices shall develop information packets, forms or videos for sharing the most current student information with each parent with written acknowledgement of receipt. The shared information may be presented in the parent guide to successful student achievement or in the checklist of parental actions that can strengthen parental involvement in a child's educational progress, and includes:
(a) Expectations of parents with respect to school attendance requirements;
(b) Expectations of parents with respect to a child's physical readiness for school, necessary school supplies, which may be obtained through various organizations if needed, meals, which may be obtained through a school's free or reduced priced meal program if qualified; and immunizations and medical care; and
(c) Expectations of parents with respect to a child's academic work, including time set aside for daily homework and reading, nightly check of homework completion and preparation for tests, early preparation of assigned school projects, signature on required forms, and check of contents of school backpack.
(2) Each report card for students in kindergarten through Grade 12 shall include a section in which the teacher grades parental involvement as satisfactory, in need of improvement or unsatisfactory on each of the following criteria:
(a) Parental response to requests for conferences or communication;
(b) The student's completion of homework and preparation for tests;
(c) The frequency of the student's absence and tardiness; and
(d) The student's overall grade per nine (9) week's assessment.
(3) A parent may appeal the report card parental involvement grade assigned by the teacher under subsection (2) of this section through a process adopted by the local school board in which the principal, the teacher and the parent meet to discuss how the report card grade was determined. The meeting shall also provide information and feedback on the steps needed to improve the parental involvement grade, thereby improving the environment and elements that affect student learning.
SECTION 4. (1) The school board of each school district or school having an accreditation rating of "C," "D" or "F," as defined by the State Board of Education, shall adopt policies and procedures regarding the daily curriculum in schools, weekly homework assignments, parental involvement, dress codes, school holidays, parent-teacher conferences and a school syllabus. The policies and procedures must include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
(a) Every child must be assigned daily homework assignments;
(b) Every child must be taught to write in proper manuscript and cursive lettering, which must be reinforced through weekend homework assignments at every grade level;
(c) Every child must be assigned a daily reading assignment;
(d) Every child must be assigned a daily written assignment to accompany the daily reading assignment in order to assess the reading comprehension level of the child;
(e) Every child must be assigned a minimum of five (5) words per week in each subject area to learn to spell, define and use in a sentence, which must be used to assess the child's retention of the assignment;
(f) Every child must be assigned a minimum of one (1) book to read per subject each month and must write a short report on the subject matter of the book, which report must be used to assess the child's learning ability. Children in primary grades may be allowed to draw pictures, elaborate orally or use any other alternative method to tell about their books;
(g) Every parent or guardian of a child shall participate in one (1) supportive service for the school district, such as assisting at the bus stop, working the concession stand for an athletic event, chaperoning a school sponsored event, serving in the Parent Teacher Association, or serving as a mentor, resource officer, tutor or other related activity that is deemed appropriate by the school or school district;
(h) Every teacher shall dress in a professional manner, which does not include wearing blue jeans, denim jeans or tee shirts, except in certain situations that have been previously approved by the school or school district;
(i) Every child must be required to wear a school uniform;
(j) Permanent early release days are prohibited. Staff development training may not be held during a regular school day; however, staff development training may be offered after the regular school day has been completed. The staff development training must be relevant to the teaching experience and beneficial to the teacher, student and district as a whole;
(k) Parent-teacher conferences must be held at least two (2) separate times during each nine-week term with the parent and a child who has not mastered his or her coursework for the mid-term or who has demonstrated bad citizenship;
(l) The school district shall provide a syllabus for each nine (9) weeks with the homework assignments posted for each subject. The syllabus must contain an agreement that the parent or guardian is required to sign stating that the parent understands the child has daily homework assignments and that the parent has received a document outlining the child's work assignments and due dates of the assignments; and
(m) The school district shall post the syllabus on the school district website, if available. If a student loses his or her syllabus, the school district may replace the document.
(2) Alternative school programs in school districts or schools having an accreditation rating of "C," "D" or "F," as defined by the State Board of Education, shall adhere to the policies required under subsection (1) of this section. Students attending an alternative school must attend school for no less than eight (8) hours per day and must attend school on one (1) Saturday during each month school is in session for no more than three (3) hours per day. At alternative schools, the designated Saturday must be known as "Attitude Adjustment Day." During one (1) Saturday of each month, the school districts or schools shall arrange for retired military, first responders, volunteer mentors, ministers, parents and any other community volunteers to attend school with the alternative school students and to share their skills and knowledge with the students, encouraging them to become better students and citizens. The skills and knowledge shared as described in this subsection (2) may be shared with the students in a singular group or in multiple smaller groups. The skills and knowledge shared may be held off of the actual school campus. In addition, the school district may authorize students to participate in community service programs on Saturdays to help build character and concern for their own school, family, neighborhood and community."
SECTION 5. A school district shall conduct a basic needs assessment of any student in the district who demonstrates a behavioral episode or is referred to an alternative school setting. Based upon the results of the assessment, the district shall refer the student to the appropriate state or local agency, including, but not limited to: the Division of Youth Services of the Department of Human Services; the State Department of Health; the county department of health; the Division of Medicaid; the Department of Human Services; the county department of public welfare; the Department of Mental Health; and the local regional mental health center. Any agency receiving a referral under this subsection must initiate action in response to the referral no later than seventy-two (72) hours after receipt of the referral.
SECTION 6. Sections 1 through 4 of this act shall stand repealed on July 1, 2019.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2016, and shall stand repealed on June 30, 2016.