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Board of Education Wants Input on Education Reform Bill

Board of Education Wants Input on Education Reform Bill

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Sandra Yi ReportingThe State Board of Education wants to know what you think about the proposed changes to your child's education.

It's all part of a controversial education reform bill passed by the legislature earlier this year. There is a public hearing tonight at Hunter High School to allow parents to get more information and also have their say on the proposed changes.

State educators say the idea is to improve student performance in all grades. This proposal for a 'competency measured education' would require elementary and middle school students to be proficient in the three R's and complete required units in math, English and science.

Meanwhile, high school students would have to score a final course grade of at least a 'C' and earn a sufficient score on the end-of-level tests, given each year.

State Superintendent Steve Laing says it's too soon to tell how many kids would be affected but some districts, he says, estimate as many as 50 percent of their high school students currently do not meet the two-tiered standards.

Steven Laing, State Superintendent of Public Instruction: "There's no question that students who take advantage of the opportunities that exist in our public schools do extremely well, but we have identified an increasing number of students that are seemingly lagging behind."

But the proposal is not without controversy. In July, parents and students rallied on the capitol steps in fear that stricter graduation requirements will squeeze kids out of elective courses like music and art.

Bonnie Moore, Parent: "It helps them think quick. It helps them be alert and be receptive and proactive and those are things they just can't learn reading a book and doing book work."

Still, whether or not the standards will be implemented next fall as scheduled is not yet known. The plan calls for added resources such as student assessment, teacher training, and intervention programs like tutoring and remedial classes, which come with a hefty price tag. One board member says the state will need 200 million dollars in new money. For now, it's a wait-and-see approach.

Steven Laing: "So there is a substantial need for new money and of course that will be the discussion in these halls when the legislative session begins."

Superintendent Laing says public input is important because the proposal is still a work in progress. There are several public meetings scheduled this month.

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