House bill would require summer school, frequent testing to address learning loss

A bill filed by House Republicans on Monday requires school district to offer six weeks of learning recovery and enrichment programs after the regular school year ends.

House Bill 82 — “Summer Learning Choice for Families” — would also require “innovative” and frequent testing throughout the school year to assess student learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Moore

It amends the state’s Benchmark assessments law to mandate more testing in “certain grades and core subject areas to allow teachers to more frequently measure students learning and address student learning loss throughout the school year.”

“An innovative benchmark assessment shall provide for educator flexibility, assessments aligned with the standard course of study, and actionable data for teachers, schools, and local school administrative units,” HB 82 said.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes); John Torbett (R-Wilkes) and Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth) are the bill’s primary sponsors.

Moore has scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference today to discuss the bill.

A press release on his webpage says the speaker has advocated for extending in-person “education opportunities this summer to struggling North Carolina students, who suffer disproportionately from closed classrooms.”

More testing isn’t likely to sit well with groups such as North Carolina Families for School Testing Reform. In recent months, the group has been critical of the U.S. Department of Education and the State Board of Education for requiring in-person testing during the COVID-19 pandemic

If HB 82 becomes law, students in grades K-12 would receive “in-person instruction” on specific subjects and “enrichment activities” to offset learning loss and other negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

School districts would prioritize at-risk students for the summer learning program.

“Instruction shall be delivered for at least five hours a day, which shall not include the time for lunch service, transition periods, and the physical activity period as required by this section,” the bill said. “The program shall be offered five days per week for a six-week period.”

In grades K-3, instruction would focus on reading and math and science for third graders. Students in grades 4-8, would receive instruction in science, math and science.

Meanwhile, high school students in-person instruction in end-of-course subjects such as English II, Math 1 and 3 and biology. Credit recovery courses to meet graduation requirements and instruction for elective courses would also be provided.

Participation in the program would be voluntary. Kindergarten students who participate would be exempt from failing. School principals would decide whether all other students met promotion requirements.

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