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Mo. Senate Committee hears ninth transfer bill

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JEFFERSON CITY • Sen. Jamilah Nasheed's solution to the problematic school transfer law focus on making sure children are performing at grade level -- and not allowing them to be promoted if they have poor achievement.

"We shouldn't let (students) move from one grade to the next if they're not ready ... we're setting them up for failure," Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said at the Senate Education Committee hearing Wednesday.

Nasheed's bill is the ninth measure heard by the committee that would modify the 1993 transfer law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay tuition and provide transportation for students wanting to attend an accredited school in the same or adjacent county.

Her measure would create various avenues for a child in the St. Louis City School District -- and charter schools in it -- performing below grade level to get help and requires the schools to assess a student's ability twice a year at a minimum. It also sets out rules for when and if a student performing below grade level can be promoted to the next grade.

The St. Louis City School District and every charter school in it also would have to provide an annual report card with numbers and percentages by grade of students who have been promoted but are reading below grade level.

Nasheed told the committee her bill focuses on the St. Louis City and Kansas City school districts, but she would be willing to extend the measures across the state.

Nasheed's bill also allows the board of an unaccredited school district to terminate school personnel and assigns each public school a grade A-F based on performance and student growth.

Below are a few ideas brought forth in other transfer bills this session:

-- students would have the option to transfer to a private, non-sectarian school in their home district

-- Accredited schools could operate charter schools in unaccredited districts. 

-- Unaccredited districts could extend school days and academic years. 

-- Districts receiving transfer students could determine appropriate class size and teacher-student ratio.

-- The state Board of Education could not classify a school district as provisionally accredited or unaccredited if there is not a member on the board who is within the congressional district where the school district is located.

-- A "statewide achievement school district" -- run by a governor-appointed board -- would oversee struggling schools. 

Committee Chairman Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, told the Post-Dispatch last week he plans to vote a transfer bill out of committee before the Legislative spring break.

(Nasheed: Senate Bill 616; LeVota: Senate Bill 624; Chappelle-Nadal: Senate Bill 516; Pearce: Senate Bill 493; Walsh: Senate Bill 595; Lamping: Senate Bill 545; Sifton: Senate Bill 534; Schmitt: Senate Bill 495; Rupp: Senate Bill 485)


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Alex Stuckey is a statehouse reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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