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Dear Friend,

Thank you for supporting legislation this session to support public education in our state and protect students
Thanks to advocates like you, the legislature passed three important pieces of legislation that would limit testing, prohibit schools from suspending our youngest students, and provide support, rather than punishment to underperforming schools. 

 HB 978 -  Protect Our Schools Act of 2017: The Governor vetoed this bill after it passed both Houses by large margins, but the legislature overrode his veto by 90-50 in the House and 32-15 in the Senate.
This bill establishes guidelines for how we measure the quality of our schools. For too long, test scores have been the primary measure of school quality, to the detriment of our students. Under this legislation, the State Board of Education is required to develop a school accountability program that contains at least three measures of a school's success. Testing can only make up  65% of that metric .The remaining 35% of the metric may be made from menu of options for measuring schools with data that we know matter, such as class size, access to certain academic courses, and teacher certification. 

This bill also focuses on what the state should be doing in cases where schools are not meeting the needs of students. It provides for a three-year period when a school is identified as facing challenges for concentrated attention from the local school board with state support. During this period, there will be opportunity for input from communities, parents, students, and teachers about what needs to be done to improve the school. After those three years, the state will take a more active role. But it will be barred from taking certain extreme actions. These include the creation of a statewide school district that will usurp local schools, forcing a charter conversion, or the provision of vouchers. This restriction will allow the state to focus on interventions that are more effective based on the needs of the school.

HB 425 - Public Schools - Suspensions and Expulsions: This bill passed the House by 90-46 and the Senate by 34-11. It prohibits a student enrolled in a public prekindergarten program, kindergarten, first, or second grade from being suspended or expelled from school, subject to certain exceptions. A student in these grades may be expelled only if required by federal law. A student in these grades may be suspended for up to five school days if the school administration, in consultation with a school psychologist or other mental health professional, determines that there is an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that cannot be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports.

HB 461- More Learning, Less Testing Act of 2017: This bill passed unanimously by both Houses. In addition to the limits placed on testing as a means of assessing schools, provided by the Protect Our Schools Act, the legislature unanimously passed this bill that will limit how much time is devoted overall to testing in schools.

This bill requires local school boards and teachers to mutually agree to a limited amount of time that may be devoted to federal, State, and locally mandated assessments for each grade by December 1, 2017. If they are unable to come to a decision, the bill mandates that the time that may be devoted to specified assessments must be limited to 2.2% of the minimum required annual instructional hours for every grade except for eighth grade, which must be limited to 2.3%.

A school must provide intervention and support to suspended students, and to students who are disruptive to the school environment or commit an act that would otherwise be grounds for suspension.

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I am proud to be representing you in Annapolis and to be a part of the District 11 legislative team. Please contact me at 410-841-3527 or if I can ever be of assistance.


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