2017 Regular Session
By: Representatives Gunn, Scoggin, Sykes, Hood
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-16-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT NO STUDENT SHALL BE TESTED UNDER THE STATEWIDE TESTING PROGRAM FOR A PERIOD OF EXCEEDING THREE DAYS WITHIN THE SCHEDULED THREE-WEEK TESTING WINDOW ESTABLISHED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF STATEWIDE ASSESSMENTS IN ANY GIVEN SCHOOL YEAR; TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONS WHEN STUDENTS MAY BE TESTED IN EXCESS OF THE THREE DAYS DUE TO REQUIRED GRADE SPECIFIC ASSESSMENTS OR REQUIRED ASSESSMENT RE-ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO TESTING IRREGULARITIES AND VIOLATIONS; TO BRING FORWARD SECTION 37-16-4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, FOR THE PURPOSE OF POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-16-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT NO SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL ADMINISTER ASSESSMENTS IN EXCESS OF TWENTY DAYS DURING ANY SCHOLASTIC YEAR; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-16-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-16-3. (1) The State Department of Education is directed to implement a program of statewide assessment testing which shall provide for the improvement of the operation and management of the public schools. The statewide program shall be timed, as far as possible, so as not to conflict with ongoing district assessment programs. As part of the program, the department shall:
(a) Establish, with the approval of the State Board of Education, minimum performance standards related to the goals for education contained in the state's plan including, but not limited to, basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics. The minimum performance standards shall be approved by April 1 in each year they are established.
(b) Conduct a uniform statewide testing program in grades deemed appropriate in the public schools, including charter schools. The program may test skill areas, basic skills and high school course content.
(c) Monitor the results of the assessment program and, at any time the composite student performance of a school or basic program is found to be below the established minimum standards, notify the district superintendent or the governing board of the charter school, as the case may be, the school principal and the school advisory committee or other existing parent group of the situation within thirty (30) days of its determination. The department shall further provide technical assistance to a school district in the identification of the causes of this deficiency and shall recommend courses of action for its correction.
(d) Provide technical assistance to the school districts, when requested, in the development of student performance standards in addition to the established minimum statewide standards.
(e) Issue security procedure regulations providing for the security and integrity of the tests that are administered under the basic skills assessment program.
(f) In case of an allegation of a testing irregularity that prompts a need for an investigation by the Department of Education, the department may, in its discretion, take complete control of the statewide test administration in a school district or any part thereof, including, but not limited to, obtaining control of the test booklets and answer documents. In the case of any verified testing irregularity that jeopardized the security and integrity of the test(s), validity or the accuracy of the test results, the cost of the investigation and any other actual and necessary costs related to the investigation paid by the Department of Education shall be reimbursed by the local school district from funds other than federal funds, Mississippi Adequate Education Program funds, or any other state funds within six (6) months from the date of notice by the department to the school district to make reimbursement to the department.
(2) Uniform basic skills tests shall be completed by each student in the appropriate grade. However, within the scheduled three-week testing window established by the State Department of Education for the administration of the statewide testing program for students in Grades 3 through 8, no individual student may be administered the uniform basic skills tests for a period exceeding three (3) days in any given school year, except as otherwise required by law for instances of re-administration authorized under Section 37-16-4(6) for violations of Section 37-16-4(1) and other administrations of independent grade specific assessments, including the Third Grade Summative Reading Assessment established and administered under the Literacy Based Promotion Act and provided under Chapter 177, Title 37, Mississippi Code of 1972, the requirement that the ACT be administered to all students in Grade 11 and any end-of-course subject area test. These tests shall be administered in such a manner as to preserve the integrity and validity of the assessment. In the event of excused or unexcused student absences, make-up tests shall be given. The school superintendent of every school district in the state and the principal of each charter school shall annually certify to the State Department of Education that each student enrolled in the appropriate grade has completed the required basic skills assessment test for his or her grade in a valid test administration.
(3) Within five (5) days of completing the administration of a statewide test, the principal of the school where the test was administered shall certify under oath to the State Department of Education that the statewide test was administered in strict accordance with the Requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System as adopted by the State Board of Education. The principal's sworn certification shall be set forth on a form developed and approved by the Department of Education. If, following the administration of a statewide test, the principal has reason to believe that the test was not administered in strict accordance with the Requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System as adopted by the State Board of Education, the principal shall submit a sworn certification to the Department of Education setting forth all information known or believed by the principal about all potential violations of the Requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System as adopted by the State Board of Education. The submission of false information or false certification to the Department of Education by any licensed educator may result in licensure disciplinary action pursuant to Section 37-3-2 and criminal prosecution pursuant to Section 37-16-4.
SECTION 2. Section 37-16-4, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:
37-16-4. (1) It is unlawful for anyone knowingly and willfully to do any of the following acts regarding mandatory uniform tests administered to students as required by the State Department of Education:
(a) Give examinees access to test questions prior to testing;
(b) Copy or reproduce all or any portion of any secure test booklet;
(c) Coach examinees during testing or alter or interfere with examinees' responses in any way;
(d) Make answer keys available to examinees;
(e) Fail to account for all secure test materials before, during and after testing;
(f) Participate in, direct, aid, counsel, assist in, encourage or fail to report any of the acts prohibited in this section.
(2) Any person violating any provisions of subsection (1) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or be imprisoned for not more than ninety (90) days, or both. Upon conviction, the State Board of Education may suspend or revoke the administrative or teaching credentials, or both, of the person convicted.
(3) Any person submitting a false certification to the State Department of Education that each statewide test in a school was administered in strict accordance with the Requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System as adopted by the State Board of Education, and with willful intent, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00), or be imprisoned for not more than three (3) years, or both. Upon conviction, the State Board of Education may suspend or revoke the administrative or teaching credentials, or both, of the person convicted.
(4) The district attorney shall investigate allegations of violations of this section, either on its own initiative following a receipt of allegations, or at the request of a school district or the State Department of Education.
(5) The district attorney shall furnish to the State Superintendent of Education a report of the findings of any investigation conducted pursuant to this section.
(6) The State Board of Education shall establish statistical guidelines to examine the results of state mandated tests to determine where there is evidence of testing irregularities resulting in false or misleading results in the aggregate or composite test scores of the class, grade, age group or school district. When said irregularities are identified, the State Superintendent of Education may order that any group of students identified as being required to retake the test at state expense under state supervision. The school district shall be given at least thirty (30) days' notice before the next test administration and shall comply with the order of the State Superintendent of Education. The results from the second administration of the test shall be final for all uses of that data.
(7) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit or interfere with the responsibilities of the State Board of Education or the State Department of Education in test development or selection, test form construction, standard setting, test scoring, and reporting, or any other related activities which in the judgment of the State Superintendent of Education are necessary and appropriate.
SECTION 3. Section 37-16-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-16-5. The school board of every district in this state shall periodically assess student performance and achievement in each school. However, in its schedule of periodic testing, no school district shall administer any assessment not authorized under the statewide testing program of uniform basic skills, as provided for in Section 37-16-3, for more than twenty (20) days during any scholastic year. Such assessment programs shall be based upon local goals and objectives which are compatible with the state's plan for education and which supplement the minimum performance standards approved by the State Board of Education. Data from district assessment programs shall be provided to the State Department of Education when such data is required in order to evaluate specific instructional programs or processes or when the data is needed for other research or evaluation projects. Each district may provide acceptable, compatible district assessment data to substitute for any assessment data needed at the state level when the State Department of Education certifies that such data is acceptable for the purposes of Section 37-16-3.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2017.