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Capitol Briefs: Senate considering database of ‘failing’ schools

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate Education Committee considered a bill that would designate and deal with “persistently failing schools” Tuesday afternoon.

SB 133, sponsored by Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to publish an annual list of schools performing in the bottom 5 percent of the state for more than 3 years on its website. Districts with schools falling on the bottom 5 percent for at least three years would be required to close and transfer students, partner with a nonprofit school operator to become a charter district, or reimburse other districts taking its transfer students. 

“Federal law requires that every state identify the bottom 5 percent of their schools each year and create a plan to improve them,” O’Laughlin told the committee, which she chairs. “This is a less restrictive version of that successful law. … The federal government allows every state to determine how best to intervene in their schools that are failing.”

  • While one witness spoke in favor, several witnesses testified against the bill, bringing up concerns about funding, learning standards, and the condition of schools with less funding and technology than others.
  • “We often talk about the urban districts and how we can help them —  I think this is really going to have an effect on not only the urban districts but in all these rural areas too,” lobbyist Ron Berry said on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers of Missouri. 
  • The committee did not hold executive session on the bill Tuesday.