South Carolina Legislature


 

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H 4399
Session 112 (1997-1998) 

H 4399 General Bill, By Wilkins, Allison, Bailey, Barfield, Barrett, Battle, 
Bauer, Beck, G. Brown, H. Brown, J. Brown, T. Brown, A.W. Byrd, Cato, Chellis, 
Cooper, Cotty, J.L.M. Cromer, Dantzler, Davenport, Delleney, Edge, J.G. Felder, 
Gamble, Harrell, Harrison, Harvin, Haskins, J. Hines, Hinson, M.H. Kinon, Kirsh, 
Knotts, Koon, Lanford, Law, Limehouse, Littlejohn, Maddox, Martin, Mason, 
McCraw, McGee, McKay, McMahand, J.D. McMaster, Meacham, Miller, Neilson, 
Phillips, Quinn, Rhoad, Rice, Riser, Rodgers, Sandifer, Sharpe, D. Smith, 
R. Smith, Spearman, Stille, E.C. Stoddard, Stuart, Townsend, Vaughn, Walker, 
Whatley, Wilder, Wilkes, Witherspoon, Woodrum and Young-Brickell
 A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 56, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO
 EDUCATION, BY ADDING CHAPTER 8 SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA PERFORMANCE
 AND ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS FOR SCHOOLS (PASS) ACT" INCLUDING PROVISIONS TO
 ESTABLISH A PASS COMMISSION AND PROVIDE FOR ITS FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES, TO
 REQUIRE THE ADOPTION OF CERTAIN STATE EDUCATION STANDARDS BY THE STATE BOARD
 OF EDUCATION, AND CREATE AN ASSESSMENT SYSTEM TO MONITOR THE ATTAINMENT OF
 THESE STANDARDS, TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL REPORT CARDS, PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
 AND AWARDS FOR SCHOOLS, TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE FOR POORLY PERFORMING SCHOOLS,
 AND TO PROVIDE A STATE-FUNDED PROGRAM OF INCENTIVES FOR PRINCIPALS AND
 TEACHERS AND FOR THEIR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AND TO REPEAL CHAPTER 6 OF
 TITLE 59 RELATING TO MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT
 PROGRAM.

   01/13/98  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-53
   01/13/98  House  Referred to Committee on Education and Public
                     Works HJ-54
   01/14/98  House  Committee report: Favorable Education and Public
                     Works HJ-6
   01/20/98  House  Requests for debate-Rep(s). Townsend, Woodrum,
                     Byrd, Barrett, Howard, Scott, Stille, Martin,
                     Maddox, Stuart, Moody-Lawrence, Harrell, M.
                     Hines, Allison, Clyburn, Loftis, Leach, Tripp,
                     Haskins, Cato, Walker, Hamilton, HJ-20
   01/20/98  House  Requests for debate-Rep(s). Leach, Tripp,
                     Haskins, Cato, Walker, Hamilton, Littlejohn,
                     Mason, Vaughn, Stoddard, R. Smith, Altman & Law HJ-20
   01/20/98  House  Special order, set for Wednesday, January 21,
                     1998, following the call of the uncontested
                     calendar (Under H. 4443) HJ-21
   01/21/98  House  Amended HJ-26
   01/21/98  House  Debate interrupted HJ-45
   01/22/98  House  Amended HJ-20
   01/22/98  House  Debate interrupted HJ-48
   01/27/98  House  Amended HJ-354
   01/27/98  House  Debate interrupted HJ-368
   01/27/98  House  Member(s) request name removed as sponsor:
                     Kennedy HJ-347
   01/28/98  House  Amended HJ-33
   01/28/98  House  Read second time HJ-53
   01/28/98  House  Roll call Yeas-95  Nays-25 HJ-53
   01/29/98  House  Read third time and sent to Senate HJ-16
   01/29/98  Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-7
   01/29/98  Senate Referred to Committee on Education SJ-8
   03/25/98  Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment
                     Education SJ-9



Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

COMMITTEE REPORT

March 25, 1998

H. 4399

Introduced by Reps. Wilkins, Townsend, Harrell, Haskins, Allison, J. Hines, Hinson, D. Smith, R. Smith, Stuart, Walker, Limehouse, Maddox, Spearman, Vaughn, G. Brown, Battle, Whatley, Barfield, Barrett, Young-Brickell, Bailey, Meacham, Neilson, Rice, Bauer, McCraw, Martin, Chellis, Rodgers, Delleney, Littlejohn, Stille, Stoddard, Cato, J. Brown, Law, Cotty, Witherspoon, Kinon, Knotts, Rhoad, Riser, Mason, Dantzler, Edge, McKay, Sandifer, Davenport, McGee, Gamble, McMaster, Felder, Byrd, Lanford, Miller, Phillips, Koon, McMahand, Kirsh, Quinn, Wilkes, Cromer, Cooper, Wilder, Harvin, Harrison, H. Brown, Sharpe, Woodrum, Beck and T. Brown

S. Printed 3/25/98--S.

Read the first time January 29, 1998.

THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

To whom was referred a Bill (H. 4399), to amend Title 59, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to education, etc., respectfully

REPORT:

That they have duly and carefully considered the same, and recommend that the same do pass with amendment:

Amend the bill, as and if amended, by striking the bill in its entirety and inserting:

/TO AMEND CHAPTER 18, TITLE 59, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO QUALITY CONTROLS AND PRODUCTIVITY REWARDS, SO AS TO ENACT THE SOUTH CAROLINA PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING ACT; TO ESTABLISH GRADE SPECIFIC STATEWIDE ACADEMIC STANDARDS FOR MATHEMATICS, ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS, AND SCIENCE; TO ESTABLISH CRITERIA FOR THE ASSESSMENT, EVALUATION, RATING, AND ACCREDITATION OF SCHOOL AND STUDENT PERFORMANCE IN REFERENCE TO THE STATEWIDE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE STANDARDS; TO ESTABLISH AN OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE TO MONITOR THE IMPACT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACT; TO AMEND VARIOUS OTHER PROVISIONS OF TITLE 59, SO AS TO BRING THEM INTO CONFORMITY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING ACT; AND TO REPEAL SECTIONS 59-6-12, 59-18-10, 59-18-11, 59-18-15, 59-18-20, 59-18-25, 59-18-30, AND 59-18-31.

Amend Title To Conform

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. This act will be known and may be cited as the "South Carolina Performance and Accountability for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Excel) Act".

SECTION 2. Chapter 18, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 59-18-100. Declaration of Legislative Purpose.

The General Assembly finds that South Carolinians have the widespread conviction that public education is vital; it is vital because it enriches the human spirit, advances our society and culture, and leads to better jobs. It is the purpose of the General Assembly in this chapter to establish a performance based accountability system for public education which focuses on improving teaching and learning so that students meet state academic standards. Accountability, as defined by this chapter, means responsibility for both improving student performance and for taking the necessary actions to improve classroom practice and school performance.

The system is to:

(1) link the policies and criteria for performance standards, accreditation, reporting, school rewards, and targeted assistance;

(2) use school and district accreditation and reporting to stress academic performance and to maintain a focus on the search for better ways to teach all students;

(3) provide an annual report card to furnish clear and specific information about school and district academic performance and other performance to parents and the public;

(4) require all districts to establish local accountability systems to stimulate quality teaching and learning practices and to target assistance to low performing schools;

(5) increase coordinated, quality technical assistance to districts; and

(6) expand the ability to evaluate the system and to conduct in-depth studies on implementation, efficiency, and the effectiveness of academic improvement efforts.

Section 59-18-110. The State Board of Education is directed to adopt grade specific academic educational standards in the core academic areas of mathematics, English/language arts, social studies (history, government, economics, and geography), and science and for grades nine through twelve to adopt specific academic standards for benchmark courses in mathematics, English/language arts, social studies, and science. The standards must be reflective of the highest level of academic skills with the rigor necessary to improve the curriculum and instruction in South Carolina's schools.

Section 59-18-120. (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State Board of Education, through the Department of Education, is directed to develop a statewide assessment program to measure student performance on state standards and: (a) identify areas in which students need additional academic support; (b) indicate the academic achievement for schools, districts, and the State based on the academic standards established by the State Board of Education; and (c) reduce additional assessments needed to satisfy federal reporting requirements. The State Board of Education is directed to develop standards based end of course assessments for benchmark courses in grades nine through twelve.

While this legislation calls for assessment in the specific areas mentioned above, this should not be interpreted in a manner that diminishes the importance of foreign languages, visual and performing arts, health, physical education and career/occupational programs.

(B) After the first statewide field test of the assessment program in each of the four academic areas, and after the field tests of the end of course assessments of benchmark courses, the Select Committee, established in Section 59-6-10, will undertake reviews of the state assessment program and the course assessments for alignment with the state standards, level of difficulty and validity, and for the ability to differentiate levels of achievement, and will make recommendations for needed changes. As a part of the review, a task force of parents, business and industry persons, community leaders, and regular and special education educators must examine the assessment program and course assessments to determine rigor and relevancy. The review will be provided to the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education as soon as feasible after the field tests. The Department of Education will then report to the Select Committee no later than one month after receiving the reports on the changes made to the assessments to comply with the recommendations.

(C) After review and approval by the Select Committee, the standards based assessment of mathematics, English/language arts, social studies, and science will be administered to all public school students to include those students as required by the 1997 reauthorization of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and by Title 1 at the end of grades three through eight. The exit examination in these four academic areas will be administered at the end of grade ten. A standards based assessment will be developed for grades one and two for use by schools and districts as deemed appropriate by the local district officials. For students with documented disabilities, the assessments developed by the Department of Education shall include the appropriate modifications and accommodations with necessary supplemental devices as outlined in a student's Individualized Education Program and as stated in the Administrative Guidelines and Procedures for Testing Students with Documented Disabilities. After review and approval by the Select Committee, the end of course assessments of benchmark courses will be administered to all public school students as they complete each benchmark course.

(D) The State Board of Education, through the State Department of Education, shall adopt or adapt a first grade readiness test which is linked to the adopted grade one academic standards. The first administration of this test must occur no later than the 2000-2001 school year. The purpose of the test is to measure individual student readiness and it is not to be used as an accountability measure at the state level.

(E) All assessments required to be developed or adopted under the provisions of this section or chapter must be objective and reliable. An `objective and reliable statewide assessment' means assessments which yield consistent results and which measure the cognitive knowledge and skills specified in the state-approved academic standards and does not include questions relative to personal opinions, feelings, or attitudes and is not biased with regard to race, gender, or socioeconomic status. It is not intended that the assessments be limited to true/false or multiple choice questions.

Section 59-18-130. The State Board of Education must establish a cyclical review by academic area of the state standards and the statewide assessment program and the assessment of benchmark courses to ensure that the standards and assessments are maintaining high expectations for teaching and learning. As a part of the review, a task force of parents, business and industry persons, community leaders, and educators must examine the assessment system to determine rigor and relevancy. At a minimum, each academic area should be reviewed and updated every four years. After each academic area is reviewed, a report on the recommendations of the task force and on the changes to be made to maintain high standards must be presented to the Select Committee for its consideration. After approval by the Select Committee, the recommendations may be implemented.

Section 59-18-140. The State Board of Education, following the recommendations of the Accountability Division of the Select Committee, established in Section 59-6-40, and working with the Department of Education, is directed to select a norm referenced test to obtain an indication of student and school performance relative to national performance levels. The test shall be administered to a statistically valid random sample of students only as the division considers necessary to evaluate the accountability system. Norm referenced testing undertaken at the state level may not be used for individual diagnostic purposes.

Section 59-18-150. The Department of Education is directed to provide the assessment results on individual students and schools in a manner and format that is easily understood by parents and the public. In addition, the school assessment results must be presented in a format easily understood by the faculty and in a manner that is useful for curriculum review and instructional improvement. The school assessment is to include information on the performance of subgroups of students within the school. The department must work with the Division of Accountability in developing the formats of the assessment results.

Section 59-18-155. The criteria governing the adoption of instructional materials shall be revised by the State Board of Education to require that the content of such materials must reflect the substance and level of performance outlined in the grade specific educational standards adopted by the state board.

Section 59-18-160. (A) By November 1999, the State Board of Education, working with the Department of Education, must promulgate regulations based on recommendations of the Accountability Division which outline the criteria to be used in the school accreditation system which is based on:

(1) student academic performance standards;

(2) other student performance indicators and school progress in meeting district and school goals and objectives; and

(3) implementation of state policies and initiatives.

Student academic performance will be given the greatest weight in determining the level of accreditation to be awarded a school.

(B) The criteria to establish academic performance standards must examine the actual performance level of the school and evaluate the rate of improvement over time in meeting the state's standards. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations establishing a rating system which must be developed with five levels specified so that school performance is clearly characterized in language that parents and the public understand.

(C) Student performance indicators will be those considered useful for assessing a school's performance and appropriate for the grade levels within the school. Dropout rate must be included in the indicators. In setting the standards for the academic standards and the performance indicators, consideration must be given to performance by subgroups of students in the school. In establishing the criteria to be used, longitudinally matched student data and measures using schools similar in student characteristics must be considered. The performance standards and criteria must use established guidelines for statistical analysis and build on current data-reporting practices. The review of progress in meeting school and district goals and standards will build on those outlined in the school and district strategic plans. Not later than November 2000, the State Board of Education, based on recommendations of the division and working with the Department of Education, must define the process to be followed for uniform collection of data.

(D) By November 2000, baseline standards must be established and beginning with November 2001, annually, five levels for accreditation must be defined, with schools to be designated as successful, proficient, acceptable, on notice, and challenged based on the criteria established by the state board. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations establishing an accreditation system for vocational centers and school districts similar to that developed for the school accreditation system.

(E) The criteria, standards setting, and baseline standards for the accreditation system must be reviewed by the Select Committee prior to their establishment by the State Board of Education.

(F) Until the assessment and performance standards required by this chapter are developed, the current program of testing and assessments including BSAP testing shall continue to be used through the 1998-99 school year.

Section 59-18-170. Annual reporting of performance and accreditation.

(A) An annual report card on schools must provide consistent reporting of performance for the individual elementary, middle, and high schools and vocational centers of the State. The school's rating on the academic performance standards must be emphasized and the accreditation designation, and information on its significance for the school and the district, must also be reported. A similar report card for school districts must also be developed.

(B) The report card must include information on comparisons, trends, needs, and performance over time which is helpful to parents and the public in evaluating the school. This information should also provide a context for the performance of the school. The report card should include information in such areas as programs and curriculum, school leadership, community and parent support, and faculty qualifications. Where appropriate, the data should yield disaggregated results when such a breakdown of particulars would provide information to schools and districts in planning for improvement. In addition, the report card must provide information on the disciplinary climate in the school.

(C) The principal, in conjunction with the School Improvement Council, established in Section 59-20-60, must write an annual narrative of a school's progress in order to further inform parents and the community about the school and its operation. The school's report card must be furnished to parents and the public no later than November fifteenth.

(D) Beginning in 2001 and annually thereafter, the Department of Education must issue the report cards to the individual schools and districts no later than November first. The format of the annual reports on schools and districts must be determined by the Accountability Division, working with the Department of Education. Special efforts are to be made to ensure that the information contained in the report cards is provided in an easily understood manner and a reader friendly format. The proposed format must be reviewed by the staffs of the Senate and House Education committees and the Select Committee.

(E) No later than June 1, 1999, the Accountability Division must report on the development of the accreditation system criteria and the report card to the Select Committee and the State Board of Education. A second report, to include uniform collection procedures for academic standards and performance indicators, is due by September 1, 1999. By September 1, 2000, a report on the development of baseline data for the schools is due.

(F) Charter schools established pursuant to Title 59, Chapter 40 will receive a performance rating and must issue a report card to parents and the public containing the rating and explaining its significance and providing other information similar to that required of other schools in this section. Alternative schools are included in the requirements of this chapter, however, the purpose of such schools must be taken into consideration in determining their performance rating and accreditation designation.

Section 59-18-180. Recognition program for schools for exceptional or improved performance.

The State Board of Education, working with the division and the Department of Education, must establish the Palmetto Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Program to recognize and reward schools for academic achievement. Schools attaining high levels of absolute performance will be given a Platinum or Gold Award. Schools attaining high rates of improvement shall be given the Silver or Bronze Award. The award program must base performance on matched student data and must include such additional criteria as: (a) student attendance; (b) teacher attendance; (c) student dropout rates; and (d) any other factors promoting or maintaining high levels of achievement and performance.

Schools and vocational centers must be rewarded according to specific criteria established by the state board in consultation with the division. In defining eligibility for a reward for high levels of performance, student performance at all levels of achievement must demonstrate improvement.

The State Board of Education must develop regulations that ensure that the schools and vocational centers of the State utilize these reward funds to improve or maintain exceptional performance according to their school plans established in Section 59-139-10, including professional development support.

Special schools for the academically talented are not eligible to receive an award pursuant to the provisions of this section unless they have demonstrated improvement and high actual achievement for three years immediately preceding.

Section 59-18-190. Exemptions from certain requirements for exceptional performance.

(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a school is given the flexibility of receiving exemptions from those regulations and statutory provisions governing the Defined Minimum Program provided that, during a three-year period, the following criteria are satisfied:

(1) the school has twice been a recipient of a Palmetto Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze Award, pursuant to Section 59-18-180;

(2) the school has met annual improvement standards for subgroups of students in reading and mathematics; and

(3) the school has exhibited no recurring accreditation deficiencies.

(B) Schools receiving flexibility status are released from those regulations and statutory provisions referred to above including, but not limited to, regulations and statutory provisions on class scheduling, class structure, and staffing. The State Board of Education in consultation with the Select Committee must promulgate regulations and develop guidelines for providing this flexibility by December 1, 2001.

(C) To continue to receive flexibility pursuant to this section, a school must annually exhibit school improvement at or above the state average as computed in the school recognition program pursuant to Section 59-18-180 and must meet the gains required for subgroups of students in reading and mathematics. A school which does not requalify for flexibility status due to extenuating circumstances may apply to the State Board of Education for an extension of this status for one year.

(D) In the event that a school is removed from flexibility status, the school is not subject to regulations and statutory provisions exempted under this section until the beginning of the school year following notification of the change in status by the State Department of Education. Subsequent monitoring by the State Department of Education in a school that is removed from flexibility status shall not include a review of program records exempted under this section for the period that the school has received flexibility status or for the school year during which the school was notified of its removal from flexibility status.

Section 59-18-195. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a school designated as on notice or challenged while in such status is given the flexibility of receiving exemptions from those regulations and statutory provisions governing the Defined Minimum Program or other State Board of Education regulations, dealing with the core academic areas established in Section 59-18-110, provided that the school's revised plan explains why such exemptions are expected to improve the academic performance of the students and the plan meets the criteria pursuant to Section 59-18-260.

Section 59-18-200. District Accountability Systems.

The State Board of Education, based on recommendations of the division and working with the Department of Education, must develop regulations requiring that no later than August 1999, each school district, or consortium of school districts, must establish a performance based accountability system, or modify its existing accountability system, to reinforce the state accountability system. Parents, teachers, and principals must be involved in the development of the accountability system established by the district. Principals should be actively involved in the selection, discipline, and dismissal of personnel in their particular school. The purpose of the district system is to stimulate constant improvement in the process of teaching and learning in each school and to target additional local assistance for a school when its students' performance is low or shows little improvement. The district accountability system must build on the district and school activities and plans required in Section 59-139-10 and, therefore, the date the school improvement reports must be provided to parents is changed to February first. Until such time as regulations pursuant to this section become effective, school district accountability systems must be developed, adopted, and implemented in accordance with State Board of Education guidelines.

Section 59-18-210. Actions to be taken when a school is designated `on notice' or `challenged'.

(A) When a school receives an accreditation designation of `on notice' or `challenged', the following actions must be undertaken by the school, the district, and the board of trustees:

(1) The faculty of the school with the leadership of the principal must review its improvement plan and revise it with the assistance of the school improvement council established in Section 59-20-60. The revised plan should look at every aspect of schooling, and must outline activities that, when implemented, can reasonably be expected to improve student performance and increase the rate of student progress. The plan should provide a clear, coherent plan for professional development, which has been designed by the faculty, that is ongoing, job related, and keyed to improving teaching and learning. A time line for implementation of the activities and the goals to be achieved must be included.

(2) Once the revised plan is developed, the district superintendent is to identify the strategies the district will use to help the school implement the improvement activities identified in the revised plan.

(3) The district board of trustees must review and approve the plan and delineate the support which the district will give the plan.

(4) After the approval of the revised plan, the principal's and teachers' professional growth plans, as required by Section 59-20-40 and Section 59-24-40, should be reviewed and amended to reflect the professional development needs identified and establish individual improvement criteria on the performance dimensions for the next evaluation.

(5) The school must inform the parents of children attending the school of the accreditation designation received from the State Board of Education and must outline the steps in the revised plan to improve performance, including the support which the board of trustees has agreed to give the plan. This information must go to the parents no later than February first and is to be provided annually until a school has received the accreditation designation of `acceptable' or above.

(B) The Department of Education must review the school's revised plan to ensure it contains sufficiently high standards and expectations of improvement. Should the department determine that the plan, the district's strategies for assistance, or the time lines and goals require further consideration, technical assistance must be provided the school, the district, and the local board of trustees in the areas found to need changes. Upon a review of the revised plan by the Department of Education, the department is to delineate the activities, support, services, and technical assistance it will provide to support the school's plan and sustain improvement over time. Schools meeting the criteria established pursuant to Section 59-18-260 will be eligible for the grant programs created by that section.

Section 59-18-220. Additional actions to be taken when a school is designated as `challenged'.

(A) When a school receives an accreditation designation of `challenged' or when a low-performing school requests it, an external review committee of at least three members must be assigned by the Department of Education to examine school and district educational programs, actions, and activities. The activities of the external review committee may include:

(1) examine all facets of school operations, focusing on strengths and weaknesses, to develop recommendations for improving student performance with emphasis on needed changes in the classroom;

(2) work with school staff, central offices, and local boards of trustees in the design of the district's plan and implementation strategies that can reasonably be expected to improve student performance and increase the rate of student progress in that school;

(3) identify needed support from the district, the State Department of Education, and other sources;

(4) identify personnel changes, if any, that are needed at the school and/or district level and discuss such findings with the board;

(5) report its recommendations, no later than three months after the school receives the designation of `challenged', to the school, the district board of trustees and the State Board of Education; and

(6) report annually over the next four years, or as deemed necessary by the state board, on the district's and school's progress in implementing the plans and recommendations and in improving student performance to the local board of trustees and the state board.

(B) The external review committee shall be selected from representatives from selected school districts, respected retired educators, State Department of Education staff, and higher education representatives.

(C) The Department of Education must review the recommendations of the external review committee, the district plan, and the school's revised plan to ensure it contains sufficiently high standards and expectations of improvement. Within thirty days, the Department of Education must notify the principal, the superintendent, and the district board of trustees of the recommendations approved by the State Board of Education. Upon the approval of the recommendations and the plans, the Department of Education is to delineate the activities, support, services, and technical assistance it will provide to support the district's and school's activities. This assistance will continue for at least three years, or as determined to be needed by the review committee to sustain improvement, with the approval of the state board.

(D) If the recommendations approved by the state board, the district's plan, or the school's revised plan are not satisfactorily implemented by the `challenged' school and its school district according to the time line developed by the State Board of Education or if student academic performance has not met expected progress, the principal, district superintendent, and members of the board of trustees must appear before the State Board of Education to outline the reasons why a state of emergency should not be declared in the school. The State Superintendent, after consulting with the external review committee and with the approval of the State Board of Education, shall be granted the authority to take any of the following actions:

(1) furnish continuing advice and technical assistance in implementing the recommendations of the State Board of Education;

(2) declare a state of emergency in the school and replace the school's principal; or

(3) declare a state of emergency in the school and assume management of the school.

Section 59-18-230. Specialist on site for schools `challenged'.

A Specialist on Site must be assigned to a school designated as `challenged', if the review committee so recommends and is approved by the State Board of Education. The specialist will assist the school in gaining knowledge of best practices and well-validated alternatives, demonstrate effective teaching, act as coach for improving classroom practices, and give support and training to identify critical questions regarding school improvement and professional development. The specialist assigned to the school must have expertise in an area identified as a weakness by the assessment or the review committee. The specialist will work with the school faculty on a regular basis throughout the school year and for up to two years, or as recommended by the review committee and approved by the state board, in order to sustain improvement.

The Department of Education, in consultation with the division, shall develop a program for selecting and training exceptional educators to serve as specialists on Site. Retired educators may be considered for specialists. School districts are asked to cooperate in releasing employees for full-time or part-time employment as a Specialist on Site. To encourage and recruit teachers for assignment to on notice and challenged schools, those assigned to such schools will receive their salary and a supplement equal to fifty percent of the current southeastern average teacher salary as projected by the State Budget and Control Board, Office of Research and Analysis; the salary and supplement is to be paid by the State.

The Department of Education, in consultation with the division, shall develop a program for selecting and training exceptional principals to serve as Principal Specialists on Site. Retired educators may be considered for Principal Specialists. A Principal Specialist may be assigned to a school designated as `challenged', if the review committee so recommends and is approved by the State Board of Education. The Principal Specialist will assist the school in gaining knowledge of best practices and well-validated alternatives, demonstrate effective leadership for improving classroom practices, assist in the analyses of assessment data; and give support to identify critical questions regarding school improvement and professional development. To encourage and recruit principals for assignment to on notice and challenged schools, those assigned to such schools will receive their salary and a supplement equal to 1.25 times the supplement amount calculated for teachers; the salary and supplement are to be paid by the State.

The supplements are to be considered part of the regular salary base for which retirement contributions are deductible by the South Carolina Retirement System pursuant to Section 9-1-1020. For the purpose of determining average final compensation as defined in Section 9-1-10 of the Code of Laws, the supplement authorized in this section shall entitle a specialist to have added to their average final compensation at the time of retirement an amount not to exceed an additional forty-five days' pay, based on the specialist's regular annual compensation at their home school location. A specialist shall be entitled to fifteen days' pay, for the purposes of this section, for each year of service as a specialist on site. Principal and Teacher Specialists on Site who are assigned to on notice or challenged schools shall be allowed to return to employment with their previous district at the end of the contract period with the same teaching or administrative contract status as when they left but without assurance as to the school or supplemental position to which they may be assigned.

For retired educators drawing benefits from the State Retirement System who are serving in the capacity of Principal or Teacher Specialist on Site, the earnings limitations which restrict the amount of compensation that may be earned from covered employment while drawing benefits under the State Retirement System do not apply to any compensation paid to them as an on-site specialist. However, no further contributions may be made to the State Retirement System related to this compensation and no additional retirement benefits or credits may be received or accrued.

Section 59-18-240. Certification credit for participation in professional development related to `on notice' or `challenged' schools.

Each teacher employed in schools designated as `on notice' or `challenged' who participate in the professional development activities and the improvement actions of the school which go beyond the normal school day and year may earn credits toward recertification according to the criteria established by the State Board of Education. To receive credit, the activities must include at least one of the following:

(1) summer institute with follow-up activities;

(2) practice of new teaching strategies with peers regularly throughout the school year;

(3) work with peer study groups during the academic year in planning lessons; and

(4) observing and coaching regularly in one another's classrooms.

The activities must be approved by the Department of Education and the department shall determine the amount of credit earned by the participation.

Section 59-18-250. Formal mentoring program for principals of schools `on notice' or `challenged'.

Each principal employed in schools designated as `on notice' or `challenged' must participate in a formal mentoring program with a principal. The Department of Education shall design the mentoring program and provide a stipend to those principals serving as mentors.

Section 59-18-260. Grants to schools designated as `on notice' or `challenged'.

The State Board of Education, working with the Accountability Division and the Department of Education, must establish grant programs for schools designated as `on notice' and for schools designated as `challenged'. A school designated as `on notice' will qualify for a grant to undertake any needed retraining of school faculty and administration once the revised plan is determined by the State Department of Education to meet the criteria on standards and activities. A school designated as `challenged' will qualify for the grant program after the State Board of Education approves its revised plan. A grant or a portion of a grant may be renewed annually over the next three years, if school and district actions to implement the revised plan continue. Should student performance not improve, prior to renewing the grant, the revised plan must be reviewed by the district and board of trustees and the State Department of Education to determine what other actions, if any, need to be taken. A grant may be extended for up to an additional two years, if the State Board of Education determines it is needed to sustain academic improvement. The funds must be expended based on the revised plan and according to criteria established by the State Board of Education. Prior to extending any grant, the Accountability Division shall review school performance in the wise use of the previously awarded grant funds. If deficient use is determined, those deficiencies must be identified, noted, and corrective action taken before a grant extension will be given.

The State Board of Education, working with the Department of Education and with the approval of the Select Committee, will develop guidelines outlining eligibility for the grant programs and methods of distributing funds which will be in effect until such time as the accreditation designations in Section 59-18-160 are implemented. In developing the eligibility guidelines, the board should consider criteria similar to that used in the impaired district program, Section 59-18-30, in effect in 1997. Until such time as regulations are promulgated, the funds shall be distributed on a per teacher basis for use only as outlined in the revised school plan.

Section 59-18-270. Actions to be taken when a school district is designated as `on notice'.

(A) When a district receives an accreditation designation of `on notice', the State Superintendent, with the approval of the State Board of Education shall appoint an external review committee to study educational programs in that district and identify factors affecting the performance of the district. The review committee must:

(1) examine all facets of school and district operations to develop recommendations for improving student performance;

(2) work with schools' staffs, central offices, and local boards of trustees in the design and implementation of a plan that can reasonably be expected to improve student performance and increase the rate of student progress;

(3) identify personnel changes, if any, that are needed at the school and/or district level and discuss such findings with the board of trustees;

(4) identify needed support from the Department of Education and other sources; and

(5) report its recommendations, no later than three months after the district receives the designation of `on notice', to the district board of trustees and the State Board of Education.

(B) Within thirty days the Department of Education must notify the superintendent and the district board of trustees of the recommendations approved by the State Board of Education. Upon the approval of the recommendations, the Department of Education must delineate the activities, support, services, and technical assistance it will provide to support the recommendations and sustain improvement over time. The external review committee must report annually over the next four years, or as deemed necessary by the state board, on the district's progress in implementing the recommendations and improving student performance to the local board of trustees and the state board.

(C) The review committee shall be composed of State Department of Education staff and representatives from selected school districts, higher education, and business.

(D) If the recommendations approved by the State Board of Education are not satisfactorily implemented by the school district according to the time line developed by the State Board of Education or if student performance has not made the expected progress and the school district is designated as `challenged', the district superintendent and members of the board of trustees must appear before the State Board of Education to outline the reasons why a state of emergency should not be declared in the district. The State Superintendent, with the approval of the State Board of Education, is granted authority to do any of the following:

(1) furnish continuing advice and technical assistance in implementing the recommendations of the State Board of Education;

(2) recommend to the Governor that the office of superintendent be declared vacant. If the Governor declares the office vacant, the State Superintendent may furnish an interim replacement until the vacancy is filled by the board of trustees or until an election is held as provided by law to fill the vacancy if the superintendent who is replaced is elected to such office. Local boards of trustees negotiating contracts for the superintendency shall include a provision that the contract is void should the Governor declare that office of superintendency vacant pursuant to this section. This contract provision does not apply to any existing contracts but to new contracts or renewal of contracts;

(3) declare a state of emergency in the school district and assume management of the school district.

Section 59-18-280. State technical assistance to schools and districts.

To assist schools and school districts as they work to improve classroom practice and student performance, the Department of Education must increase the delivery of quality technical assistance services and the assessment of instructional programs. The department may need to reshape some of its organization and key functions to make them more consistent with the assistance required by schools and districts in developing and implementing local accountability systems and meeting state standards. The Department of Education must:

(1) establish an on-going peer review process for school and district plans, including district and school accountability systems, to ensure the plans contain strategies that can reasonably be expected to improve student performance and increase the rate of student progress;

(2) establish an on-going state mechanism to promote successful programs found in South Carolina schools for implementation in schools with similar needs and students, to review evidence on instructional and organizational practices considered to be effective, and to alert schools and classroom teachers to these options and the sources of training and names of implementing schools;

(3) provide information and technical assistance in understanding state policies, how they fit together, and the best practice in implementing them; and

(4) establish a process for monitoring information provided for accreditation and for assessing improvement efforts and implementation of state laws and policies which focuses on meeting the intent and purpose of those laws and policies.

Section 59-18-290. Regional service centers established.

(A) To increase the delivery of quality technical assistance and professional development, the State Board of Education, working with the Select Committee and the Department of Education, shall establish multi-school district regional centers for learning, teaching, and school leadership. The purpose of the centers is to foster and sustain improvement over time by providing coordinated support and sustained, intensive training for teachers and principals that is based on the specific needs of those schools and school districts included in the centers and on the educational priorities of the State.

(B) There shall be no more than thirteen regional centers established across the State. In forming the centers, the State Board of Education must take into consideration the existing boundaries of the Math and Science Hubs; however, the state board must also take into consideration the boundaries and memberships of existing voluntary district consortia and must consult with the school districts. Where existing consortia agree, the regional centers must be merged into the existing consortia structures. When the regional center is merged into an existing consortium structure, the support provided by the individual school districts to that consortium must continue at least at the same level as prior to the merger. However, those groups of districts which have boundaries of the Math and Science Hubs and the Tech Prep Consortium that coincide may petition the State Board of Education to become a regional center and that petition must be granted. Each regional center shall have as its governing board the district superintendents who shall serve as the designees of their respective boards of trustees from the school districts to be served by the regional center and at least one business and industry representative from each school district elected by the members of the Tech Prep executive board.

(C) These centers are empowered to hire a director and receive state, local, and federal funds that have been assigned to the centers by the member school districts and are also empowered to spend those funds on behalf of the districts assigning those funds. The centers are eligible to receive and expend funds from state and federal governments, school districts, and other public or private sources. Such funds shall be reported in the same manner as that required of school districts. Center employees, who shall be hired by the director with the approval of the governing board, shall be considered state employees for the purposes of retirement and fringe benefits.

(D) Each regional center will provide coordinated curriculum development and instructional planning assistance, professional development which meets national standards for delivery, leadership training, assistance with implementation of teacher and principal evaluations, and such other services as needed and desired by the schools and school districts within the center. The funding of the realigned Math and Science Hubs and the Tech Prep Consortia shall continue to be used for the purposes set forth by federal requirements and the various state plans guiding the hubs and consortia; however, the hubs' and Tech Prep Consortia's activities must be coordinated with one another and with the needs and activities of the districts within the regional center in accordance with the directives of the center's governing board. The federal requirements for the various advisory boards will be observed. In addition, the centers will serve as technology service areas for technology training, assistance, and information. Each school district within its consortium is entitled to participate in those programs offered by the consortium but no district is required to participate in any service.

(E) With the approval of the consortium governing board, the State Department of Education may assign agency personnel to that consortium. The centers may work in conjunction with consultants and faculty from universities in the State. The technical colleges must continue to work as partners in Tech Prep with the regional centers in which they are located and with the school districts in that regional center.

(F) The State Board of Education, working with the Select Committee and the Department of Education, must develop such policies and regulations as may be needed for the proper administration of the regional centers. However, any policies and regulations should preserve the independence of the regional centers and their boards. The Department of Education must consider reshaping its organization to focus its technical assistance and service delivery through the regional centers.

(G) Five years after the establishment of the centers, the division must evaluate their effectiveness. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of the centers in providing training and technical assistance to the state's schools and school districts and to ensure that each regional center is responsive to the needs of the schools and districts it serves.

Section 59-18-400. An on-going public information campaign must be established to apprise the public of the status of the public schools and the importance of high standards for academic performance for the public school students of South Carolina, not only for the future of the individual student but for the future of all our citizens. A special committee appointed by the Select Committee, and working with it, representing business, industry, and education shall plan and oversee development of the campaign, including public service announcements for the media and such other avenues as deemed appropriate for informing the public. Private individuals and groups are asked to contribute to this endeavor. The Select Committee, established in Section 59-6-10, may accept such donations and grants; for every two dollars donated by private individuals or groups for this purpose, the State shall contribute one dollar, from the state general fund, up to five hundred thousand dollars. All such funds so received by the Select Committee must be used by the committee for its appropriate purposes provided by law.

Section 59-18-500. The State Board of Education, working with the Department of Education and the Select Committee, shall promulgate regulations to fund no more than forty-six alternative schools, one in each county. Districts are authorized and encouraged to cooperate in funding the alternative school. These schools must be at a site separate from other schools, unless operated at a time when those schools are not in session. These schools shall provide appropriate services to middle or high school students who for academic or behavioral reasons are not benefiting from the regular school program. The regulations must include guidelines to ensure that effective practices are adopted.

To be eligible for funding the school district(s) must develop a plan for the school which establishes a comprehensive program to address student problems. State requirements for staffing may be waived if the plan meets the criteria and has a reasonable expectation of success. The plan must include:

(1) the mission of the school;

(2) policy for the basis of enrollment in the school;

(3) a low pupil-teacher ratio, to include one on one assistance, independent computer assisted leaning and distance learning;

(4) provision for transportation to the school;

(5) establishment of comprehensive staff development;

(6) appointment of a mentor teacher at the student's original school in order to ease transition back to that school should such a transfer occur; and

(7) a process for community involvement and support.

The district(s) shall contract with the school for each student attending for an amount that is no less than the amount equal to that generated by the student's EFA weight. Base funding for the alternative school shall be provided as available from the General Assembly.

Section 59-18-600. The Department of Education, in consultation with the division, shall develop a program to provide a supplemental salary to teachers in the core academic areas defined in Section 59-18-110, who are selected to teach in schools designated as on notice or challenged beginning with school year 2000-2001. The supplement will be equal to twenty percent of the southeastern average teachers salary and the funding will be distributed per eligible teacher by experience and degree obtained and on the EFA formula. The supplements are to be considered part of the regular salary base for which retirement contributions are deductible by the South Carolina Retirement System pursuant to Section 9-1-1020. For the purpose of determining average final compensation as defined in Section 9-1-10 of the Code of Laws, the supplement authorized in this section shall entitle a specialist to have added to their average final compensation at the time of retirement an amount not to exceed an additional forty-five days' pay, based on the specialist's regular annual compensation at their home school location. A specialist shall be entitled to fifteen days' pay, for the purposes of this section, for each year of service as a specialist on site.

Section 59-18-700. The State Board of Education shall establish grant programs to fund homework centers in schools and districts designated as on notice or challenged. Schools and districts receiving such designations must provide centers where students can come and receive assistance in understanding and completing their school work. For homework centers meeting the criteria established by the board, funds will be provided as appropriated by the General Assembly.

Section 59-18-800. The State Board of Education, through the Department of Education, shall establish a grant program to encourage school districts to pilot test or implement a modified school year schedule. The purpose of the grant is to assist with the additional costs incurred during the intersessions for salaries, transportation, and operations. For a district to qualify for a grant, all the schools within a specific feeder zone or elementary-to-middle-to-high school attendance area, must be pilot testing or implementing the modified schedule.

Section 59-18-810. To obtain a grant, a district shall submit an application to the State Board in a format specified by the Department of Education. The application shall include a plan for implementing a modified year calendar that provides the following: more time for student learning, learning opportunities that typically are not available in the regular student day, targeted assistance for students whose academic performance is significantly below promotion standards, more efficient use of facilities and other resources, and evaluations of the impact of the modified schedule. Local district boards of trustees shall require students whose performance in a core subject area such as English/ language arts, science, mathematics, or social studies is rated to be the equivalent of a 'D' average or below to attend the intersessions and receive special assistance in the subject area and must outline other options the student must meet in order to qualify for promotion should the student not attend the intersession as required. Funding for the program is as provided by the General Assembly in the annual appropriation act. Each grant award for program pilot testing or implementation may not exceed a three-year period."

Review of professional development regulations.

SECTION 3. The State Board of Education, working with the Department of Education, must review the regulations regarding professional development and revise them so they promote the use of state dollars for training which meets national standards for staff development.

Review of state assisted programs and policies for professional development.

SECTION 4. The division must conduct a review of the current organization and structure for state assisted programs and policies for professional development. The review is to take into consideration the research on effective programs and to recommend better ways to provide and meet the needs for professional development, including the use of the five contract days for in service.

Principal Leadership Development.

SECTION 5. Article 1, Chapter 24, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-24-5. Legislative Findings.

The General Assembly finds that the leadership of the principal is key to the success of a school, and support for ongoing, integrated professional development is integral to better schools and to the improvement of the actual work of teachers and school staff."

SECTION 6. Sections 59-24-10 and 59-24-30 of 1976 Code are amended to read:

"Section 59-24-10. Beginning with the school year 1999-2000, any person who is under consideration for appointment as a principal for any elementary school, secondary school, or vocational center must be assessed for instructional leadership and management capabilities by the Assessment Center Leadership Academy of the South Carolina Department of Education and a personal professional development plan constructed on the basis of that assessment prior to or within one year of the date such appointment is made. A report of this assessment must be forwarded to the district superintendent. The provisions of this section do not apply to any persons currently employed as principals on the effective date of the provisions of this paragraph nor to any persons hired as principals before the beginning of school year 1996-97 1999-2000.

Section 59-24-30. All school administrators shall develop annually or update an on-going individual professional development plan with annual updates which is appropriate for their role or position. This plan shall support both their individual growth and organizational needs. Organizational needs must be defined by the districts' strategic plans or school renewal plans. The Department of Education shall assist school administrators in carrying out their professional development plans by reviewing the school and district plans and providing or brokering programs and services in the area of areas identified for professional development."

SECTION 7. Section 59-24-50 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 59-24-50. The By January 1, 1999, the South Carolina Department of Education's Leadership Academy shall develop, in cooperation with school districts, district consortia, and state-supported institutions of higher education, new training programs and expand current training programs available to present and prospective school administrators with particular emphasis on effective instructional leadership continuous professional development programs which meet national standards for professional development and focus on the improvement of teaching and learning. By July 1, 1999, programs funded with state funds must meet these standards and must provide training, modeling, and coaching By January 1, 1990, these training programs must include an emphasis on effective instructional leadership as it pertains to instructional leadership and school-based improvement, including instruction on the importance of school improvement councils and ways administrators may make school improvement councils an active force in school improvement. The training must be developed and conducted in collaboration with the School Council Assistance Project."

SECTION 8. Article 1, Chapter 24, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-24-80. Formal induction program for first year principals.

Beginning with school year 1999-2000, each school district, or consortium of school districts, shall provide school principals serving for the first time as building administrators with a formalized induction program in cooperation with the State Department of Education. The State Board of Education must develop regulations for the program based on the criteria and statewide performance standards which are a part of the process for assisting, developing, and evaluating principals employed in the school districts. The program must include an emphasis on the elements of instructional leader skills, implementation of effective schools research, and analysis of test scores for curricular improvement."

SECTION 9. Section 59-6-10 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 59-6-10. Oversight Committee.

In order to assist in, recommend, and supervise implementation of programs and expenditure of funds for the Performance and Accountability for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (Excel) Act and the Education Improvement Act of 1984 there is created a the Select Committee is to serve as the oversight committee for the act these acts. The Select Committee shall:

(1) review and monitor the implementation and evaluation of Excel and Education Improvement Act programs and funding;

(2) make programmatic and funding recommendations to the General Assembly;

(3) report annually to the General Assembly on the progress of the programs;

(4) recommend Excel Act and EIA program changes to state agencies and other entities as it considers necessary.

Each state agency and entity responsible for implementing the Performance and Accountability for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Act and the Education Improvement Act funded programs shall submit annually to the Select Committee programs and expenditure reports and budget requests as needed and in a manner prescribed by the Select Committee.

The committee consists of the following persons:

(1) Speaker of the House of Representatives or his designee and a member of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker;

(2) Lieutenant Governor President Pro Tempore or his designee and a member of the Senate appointed by the Lieutenant Governor President Pro Tempore;

(3) Chairman of the Education and Public Works Committee of the House of Representatives or his designee;

(4) Chairman of the Education Committee of the Senate or his designee;

(5) State Superintendent of Education or his designee;

(6) Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education or his designee;

(7 5) Governor or his designee and a member appointed by the Governor;

(8 6) Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives or his designee;

(9 7) Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate or his designee;

(8) Four members representing business and industry who must have experience in business, management, or policy to be appointed as follows: two by the Governor, one by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and one by the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee;

(9) Four members representing education who shall be the State Teacher of the Year and the State Principal of the Year from the prior two school years. The principal membership shall rotate among the elementary, and high school principals of the year.

A member of the General Assembly shall serve as chairman. Any new appointees to the committee must be made no later than July 1, 1998.

Members of the committee shall meet no less than once a quarter and annually shall submit their findings and recommendations to the General Assembly before March first of each fiscal year. The committee shall hire administrative staff as necessary to carry out its functions."

SECTION 10. Chapter 6, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-6-100. Establishment of division for monitoring.

Within the Select Committee, an Accountability Division must be established to report on the monitoring, development, and implementation of the performance based accountability system and reviewing and evaluating all aspects of the Excel Act. A subcommittee of seven members of the Select Committee (the four members representing business and industry, one appointed by the Governor from the members of the committee, and two appointed by the chairman, one from the members appointed from the Senate and one from the members appointed from the House of Representatives) will serve to advise and coordinate on a regular basis the work of the Accountability Division. The subcommittee must elect its chair from one of the business and industry representatives. The division will provide information, recommendations, and an assessment of the Excel Act to the Select Committee annually.

The division will employ, by a majority vote of the subcommittee, for a contract term of three years an executive director for the Accountability Division. The director must be chosen solely on grounds of fitness to perform the duties assigned to him and must possess at least the following qualifications: a demonstrated knowledge of public education, experience in program evaluation, and experience in a responsible managerial capacity. No member of the General Assembly nor anyone who will have been a member for one year previously will be contracted to serve as director. The director will have the authority to employ, with the approval of the subcommittee, professional and support staff as necessary to carry out the duties of the division, which shall be separate from the administrative staff of the Select Committee.

Section 59-6-110. The division must examine the public education accountability system and the EIA to ensure that the system and its components and the EIA programs are functioning for the enhancement of student learning. The division will recommend the repeal or modification of statutes, policies, and rules that deter school improvement. The division must provide biannually its findings and recommendations in a report to the Select Committee no later than February first. The division is to expand the ability to evaluate the system and to conduct in-depth studies on implementation, efficiency, and the effectiveness of academic improvement efforts as they relate to Excel and submit reports containing its findings and recommendations, as needed, to the Select Committee.

The responsibilities of the division do not include fiscal audit functions or funding recommendations except as they relate to accountability. It is not a function of this division to draft legislation and neither the director nor any other employee of the division shall urge or oppose any legislation.

In the performance of it duties and responsibilities, the division and staff members are subject to the statutory provisions and penalties regarding confidentiality of records as they apply to schools, school districts, the Department of Education, and the Board of Education.

Section 59-6-120. For the purposes of carrying out its duties and responsibilities, the Accountability Division shall have access to the records and facilities of the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and the school districts and schools during regular operating hours. The division may call on the facilities and expertise of the state institutions of higher learning and any other tax supported agencies for use by the division in carrying out its functions and may coordinate and consult with existing agency and legislative staff."

SECTION 11. When parents are involved with their children's education, students achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents' education level. The more extensive the parent involvement, the higher level of the student achievement. Therefore, the Select Committee shall appoint a task force to review current state programs and policies for parent participation in their children's education. The task force is to look for ways to encourage and induce parents to oversee and support student academic performance and behavior that contributes to academic improvement. The membership of the task force should include: public school educators from rural, urban, and suburban schools and districts; parents of public school children; social service representatives; and a juvenile justice representative. The task force must be appointed no later than September 1, 1998, and shall provide its report and recommendations to the Select Committee by October 15, 1999.

SECTION 12. The Select Committee will study the foundation program, which has not been changed since 1973, review the cost of providing the base student program, and the weights used to recognize the relative costs associated with providing services to pupils participating in different educational programs. As a part of the study, the Select Committee will examine the cost of providing alternative schools and recommend an appropriate weighting to be included in the Education Finance Act for students served in these schools. The committee shall report it findings to the General Assembly no later than September 1, 1999.

SECTION 13. Section 59-29-10 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 59-29-10. The county board of education and the board of trustees for each school district shall see that in every school under their care there shall be taught, as far as practicable, orthography, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, English grammar and instruction in phonics, the elements of agriculture, the history of the United States and of this State, the principles of the Constitutions of the United States and of this State, morals and good behavior, algebra, physiology and hygiene (especially as to the effects of alcoholic liquors and narcotics upon the human system), English literature, and such other branches as the state board may from time to time direct."

SECTION 14. Title 59, Chapter 63 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-63-65. School districts which choose to reduce class size in full day kindergarten programs and in grades one through grade three shall be eligible for funding for the reduced pupil-teacher ratio as funds are made available from the General Assembly. Local match is required for the lower ratio funding based on the Education Finance Act formula. Boards of trustees of each school district may implement the lower pupil-teacher ratio on a school by school basis but must attain an average district pupil-teacher ratio of fifteen to one based on average daily membership in each grade within three years of beginning the reduction in class size in that grade.

Funding for the lower pupil ratio will be made available as follows:

(1) beginning with school year 1998-99, for kindergarten;

(2) beginning with school year 1999-2000, for grade one;

(3) beginning with school year 2000-2001, for grade two;

(4) beginning with school year 2001-2002, for grade three.

The pupil-teacher ratio required is this section is based on the district average daily membership in each grade; however, it is the intent of the General Assembly that this ratio be implemented as much as possible on a school and class basis. District boards of trustees implementing the reduced ratio on a school by school basis shall establish policies to give priority to reduce the ratios in schools with the highest number of students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program and these students shall be given priority in implementing the reduced class size. Unobligated funds which become available during the fiscal year will be redistributed to fund additional teachers on a prorated basis."

SECTION 15. Any additional expense created by programs or actions required by the State to comply with this act must be paid for by the State on the EFA formula, if the state board, working with the Department of Education, has reviewed the cost and certified that it is accurate and due to compliance with this act.

SECTION 16. Section 59-6-12 of the 1976 Code is repealed.

SECTION 17. Sections 59-18-10, 59-18-11, 59-18-15, 59-18-20, 59-18-25, 59-18-30, and 59-18-31 of the 1976 Code are repealed.

SECTION 18. The Department of Education must provide a copy of this act to every district superintendent and school principal in this State.

SECTION 19. The catch line headings, or captions, which immediately follow the section designations, or those that immediately precede a SECTION that has not been designated a Code section within Title 59, are for informational purposes only and must not be used to construe the sections more broadly or narrowly than the text of the sections would indicate. The catch lines, or captions, are not part of the law.

SECTION 20. This act takes effect upon the approval by the Governor./

NIKKI G. SETZLER, for Committee.

A BILL

TO AMEND TITLE 59, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO EDUCATION, BY ADDING CHAPTER 8 SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA PERFORMANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS FOR SCHOOLS (PASS) ACT" INCLUDING PROVISIONS TO ESTABLISH A PASS COMMISSION AND PROVIDE FOR ITS FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES, TO REQUIRE THE ADOPTION OF CERTAIN STATE EDUCATION STANDARDS BY THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, AND CREATE AN ASSESSMENT SYSTEM TO MONITOR THE ATTAINMENT OF THESE STANDARDS, TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL REPORT CARDS, PERFORMANCE INDICATORS AND AWARDS FOR SCHOOLS, TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE FOR POORLY PERFORMING SCHOOLS, AND TO PROVIDE A STATE-FUNDED PROGRAM OF INCENTIVES FOR PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS AND FOR THEIR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AND TO REPEAL CHAPTER 6 OF TITLE 59 RELATING TO MONITORING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"CHAPTER 8

Performance and Accountability

Standards for Schools

Article 1

General Provisions

Section 59-8-100. This chapter is known and may be cited as the 'South Carolina Performance and Accountability Standards for Schools (PASS) Act'.

Section 59-8-110. The General Assembly finds that South Carolinians have a commitment to public education and a conviction that high expectations for all students are vital components for improving academic achievement. It is the purpose of the General Assembly in this chapter to create a system of accountability for public education which focuses on equipping students with a strong academic foundation by emphasizing teaching and learning. Accountability is defined by this chapter to mean acceptance of the responsibility of improving student performance by the Governor, the General Assembly, the State Department of Education, colleges and universities, local school boards, administrators, teachers, parents, students, and the community to ensure that students are equipped with a strong academic foundation.

Section 59-8-120. The South Carolina Performance and Accountability Standards for Schools Act shall:

(1) use academic achievement standards to push schools and students toward higher performance;

(2) align state assessment to the academic achievement standards;

(3) develop a performance indicator system that is logical, reasonable, fair, challenging, and technically defensible;

(4) report useful information about what is happening in schools;

(5) seek to strengthen classrooms in order to improve schools;

(6) provide resources to strengthen the process of teaching and learning in the classroom to improve student performance and reduce gaps in performance; and

(7) support professional development as integral to improvement, to the actual work of teachers and school staff.

Section 59-8-130. As used in this chapter:

(1) 'Commission' means the Performance and Accountability Standards for Schools Commission as established in Section 59-8-300.

(2) 'Standards based assessment' means an assessment where an individual's performance is compared to specific performance standards and not to the performance of other students.

(3) 'Disaggregated data' means data broken out for specific groups within the total student population, such as by race, gender, and family income level.

(4) 'Longitudinally matched student data' means examining the performance of a single student or a group of students by considering their test scores over time.

(5) 'Norm-referenced assessment' means assessments designed to compare student performance to a nationally representative sample of similar students known as the norm group.

(6) 'Academic achievement standards' means statements of expectations for student learning.

(7) 'Department' means the State Department of Education. (8) 'Absolute grade' means the grade a school will receive based on the percentage of students meeting standard on the state's standards based assessment.

(9) 'Improvement grade' means the grade a school will receive based on longitudinally matched student data comparing current performance to the previous year's for the purpose of determining student academic growth.

(10) 'Office of Research and Development' means the special unit within the commission established in Section 59-8-320.

Article 3

Oversight and Monitoring

Section 59-8-300. (A) In order to provide oversight for the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of this chapter and the Education Improvement Act of 1984, there is created the Performance and Accountability Standards for Schools (PASS) Commission. The commission shall:

(1) provide oversight of implementation and evaluation of this chapter;

(2) make recommendations for amendments or repeal of any part of this chapter;

(3) report annually to the Governor, the General Assembly, State Board of Education, and the public on the progress of this chapter;

(4) make program or policy recommendations to state agencies and other entities as it considers necessary.

(B) The PASS Commission also shall:

(1) review and monitor Education Improvement Act (EIA) programs and their funding;

(2) report as needed to the General Assembly on the progress of any programs effecting the accountability system;

(3) recommend EIA and other program changes to state agencies and other entities as it consider necessary.

Section 59-8-310. (A) The membership of the commission shall consist of fifteen members as follows:

(1) two nonlegislative at-large members appointed by the Governor;

(2) two members of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;

(3) two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

(4) four nonlegislative members representing the business and industry community with the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and State Superintendent of Education each making one such appointment. The business appointees must have experience in business, management, or policy and a knowledge of public education;

(5) four nonlegislative members representing the public education community with the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and State Superintendent of Education each making one such appointment;

(6) one member shall represent the Council of College Presidents and the Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc. and shall be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the chairmen thereof. This position on the commission shall be rotated every four years between the two above entities;

(7) The members appointed pursuant to items (2) and (3) may serve notwithstanding the provisions of Section 8-13-770. Their terms of office on the commission must be coterminous with their terms of office as members of the General Assembly.

(B) The terms of office of the members of the PASS Commission, except for the legislative members, are four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify except of those first appointed the terms must be staggered as follows:

(1) initial terms of two years shall be served by the two members of the business and industry community and the two members of the education community appointed by the Governor and the State Superintendent of Education, respectively;

(2) initial terms of three years shall be served by the at-large members appointed by the Governor; and

(3) all other voting members shall serve initial four year terms.

(C) The following shall serve as ex officio, nonvoting members of the commission:

(1) State Superintendent of Education or his designee;

(2) Chairman of the State Board of Education or his designee;

(3) Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education or his designee.

(D) Initial appointments must be made by July 31, 1998, at which time the Governor or his designee shall call the first meeting. At the initial meeting, a chairman shall be elected by a majority vote of the members attending with quorum present. A quorum is defined as having a majority of the number of voting members present. The term of chairman shall be two years. At the end of each two-year term, an election must be held for the chairmanship by majority vote of the members attending with quorum present as defined above. No member shall serve more than four consecutive years as chairman. Other officers as considered necessary also may be elected by the commission.

Section 59-8-320. A special unit to be known as the Office of Research and Development shall be established within the commission. The office's responsibilities shall include planning, monitoring, reviewing, and evaluating all aspects of this chapter and the EIA and providing staff support to the commission. The Office of Research and Development shall provide information, recommendations, and assessment of this chapter to the commission.

Section 59-8-330. The commission shall employ an executive director for the Office of Research and Development. Selection of the executive director shall be made upon approval by a majority of the membership of the PASS Commission. No member of the General Assembly nor anyone else who has been a member of the commission within the past year may be employed as executive director. The executive director shall have the authority, with the approval of the commission, to employ and dismiss professional and support staff as necessary to carry out the duties of the office.

Section 59-8-340. The Office of Research and Development shall examine the public education system to ensure that the system and its components are functioning so that student learning is enhanced and shall recommend the repeal or modification of laws, policies, and rules or regulations that deter school improvement. The responsibilities and duties of the Office of Research and Development are:

(1) to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the State standards and assessment;

(2) to oversee the development, establishment, implementation and maintenance of the accountability system;

(3) to evaluate the accountability system and its various parts and programs and report annually its findings and recommendations in a report to the commission no later than February first of each year.

(4) to monitor and evaluate the functioning of the public education system and its components, programs, policies, and practices as they relate to this chapter and to submit reports containing its findings and recommendations, as needed, to the PASS Commission and;

(5) to perform other studies and reviews as required by law.

Section 59-8-350. The responsibilities of this Office of Research and Development may not include fiscal audit functions or funding recommendations except as they relate to accountability.

Section 59-8-360. In the performance of its duties and responsibilities, the Office of Research and Development and staff members are subject to the provisions of law and penalties regarding confidentiality of records as they apply to students, schools, school districts, the Department of Education, and the Board of Education.

Section 59-8-370. The State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and the school districts and schools shall work collaboratively with the Office of Research and Development to provide information needed to carry out the responsibilities and duties of its office. The Office of Research and Development may call on the expertise of the state institutions of higher learning and any other public agencies for carrying out its functions and may coordinate and consult with existing agency and legislative staff.

Article 5

State Standards and Assessment System

Section 59-8-500. The State Board of Education is directed to adopt specific performance-oriented state education standards in the core academic areas of mathematics, English/language arts, science, and social studies (history, government, economics, and geography) for kindergarten through twelfth grade whose elements promote the goals of providing every student with the competencies to:

(1) read, view, and listen to complex information in the English language;

(2) write and speak effectively in the English language;

(3) solve problems by applying mathematics;

(4) conduct research and communicate findings;

(5) understand and apply scientific concepts;

(6) obtain a working knowledge of world, United States, and South Carolina history, government, economics, and geography; and

(7) use information to make decisions.

These standards must have depth so that students are encouraged to learn at unprecedented levels and must be reflective of the highest level of academic skills at each grade level. The purpose of these standards are to guide classroom instruction and to prepare students for state, national, and international assessments.

Section 59-8-510. The commission shall provide for a cyclical review by academic area of the state standards to ensure that the standards are maintaining high expectations for learning and teaching. All academic areas must be initially reviewed by the year 2005. The review with recommended revisions must be provided to the State Board of Education.

Section 59-8-520. (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State Board of Education, through the Department of Education, is directed to develop, select, or adapt an objective and reliable statewide assessment program for grades two through eight, objective and reliable end of course tests for gateway courses in English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies for grades nine through twelve, and an objective and reliable exit exam as referenced in Section 59-30-10(f) designed to measure student performance on state standards and which shall:

(1) identify areas in which students need additional support;

(2) indicate the academic achievement for schools, districts, state; and

(3) satisfy federal reporting requirements.

Regular testing in the subject areas of science, mathematics, English/language arts, and social studies, is not to be construed as lessening the importance of foreign languages, visual and performing arts, health, physical education, and career/occupational programs.

(B) The standards based assessment must be administered to all public school students as defined by the 1997 reauthorization of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title 1 at the end of grades two through eight, end of course tests for grades nine through twelve, and the exit examination must be administered for the first time at the end of grade ten. These assessments must be administered as late as possible in the school year but early enough to allow preliminary assessment data to be received by the schools annually no later than May fifteenth of each year. The State Board of Education shall establish a composite performance standard for each test administered.

Section 59-8-525. Any new standards required to be developed and adopted by the State Board of Education, through the Department of Education, must be developed and adopted upon the advice and consent of the PASS Commission.

Section 59-8-530. The Department of Education is directed to provide longitudinally matched student data from the standards based assessments and disaggregated state assessment data to the schools and districts of the State. This data must be provided to the schools and districts annually and be sufficient to inform teachers fully of student performance and differences in performance among various subgroups. Data also must be presented in such a format that parents understand both school and individual student performance. Schools and districts shall be responsible for disseminating this information to parents.

Section 59-8-540. After the first statewide field test of the assessment, the commission shall review the assessment for alignment with the state standards, difficulty and validity, particularly content validity and high standards, and for its ability to differentiate levels of achievement and shall make recommendations for needed changes, if any, to the assessment system. The review must be provided to the State Board of Education, State Department of Education, the Governor, the Senate, and House of Representatives. The Department of Education then shall report to the commission and these committees the changes made based on the recommendations to the assessment system.

Section 59-8-550. The State Board of Education, through the State Department of Education, shall develop, select, or adapt a first grade readiness test which is linked to the adopted grade one academic standards and a second grade readiness test which is linked to the adopted grade two academic standards. The first administration of this test must occur no later than 2000-2001 school year. The results of these tests may not be used to determine the absolute or improvement grade for a school.

Section 59-8-560. The State Board of Education, through the commission, is directed to select a norm referenced test to provide comparisons of South Carolina students' achievement in relation to other students in the United States and around the world. The test must be administered to a statistically valid random sample of students in at least five grades from grades 2 through 12 to give an accurate portrayal of student achievement in relation to other states. The commission shall determine an appropriate sampling plan for the norm referenced test that must be administered beginning in the 1998-99 school year. Student performance data from national and international assessments, as available and as defined by the commission, must be used to monitor the rigor of the state standards.

Section 59-8-570. High schools shall offer state-funded PSAT or PLAN tests to each tenth grade student in order to assess and identify curricular areas that need to be strengthened and re-enforced. Schools and districts shall use these assessments as diagnostic tools to provide academic assistance to students whose scores reflect the need for such assistance. Schools and districts shall use these assessments to provide guidance and direction for parents and students as they plan for postsecondary experiences.

Section 59-8-580. Beginning in the 1999-2000 school year, any student in grades two through eight who fails to meet the composite performance standard established by the State Board of Education on the state assessment must be retained in his current grade or may be provided academically based options for promotion to the next grade upon appeal to the local district board of trustees. Options districts may choose from must be established by the commission. However, districts may submit additional options to retention to the commission for approval. All options for the following school year must be submitted by April first of each year. The commission shall rule on submitted options within sixty days.

Article 7

Report Cards and Indicators

Section 59-8-700. (A) The commission, working with the State Board of Education, is directed to establish an annual report card and its format for elementary, middle, and high schools and school districts. The annual report card for districts and schools must serve at least four purposes:

(1) to inform parents and the public about the school's status;

(2) to assist in the identification of strengths and weaknesses within a particular school;

(3) to reward schools for high performance; and

(4) to evaluate and focus resources on schools with low performance.

(B) The report card must describe the educational achievement relative to student performance on academic assessments, include performance indicators which identify areas in which improvement may be desirable or necessary and which lead to increased academic achievement, and contain an annual narrative of the school's progress written by the principal in conjunction with the School Improvement Council. The narrative must cite factors or activities supporting progress and barriers which inhibit progress. The format of the report card must include the state grading scale, the school's numerical score, and the equivalent letter grade. The report card must contain a school's current year numerical score and letter grade as well as the previous four years information as applicable, and must contain other criteria including, but not limited to, information on promotion and retention ratios, disciplinary incidents, expulsions, dropout ratios, student and teacher ratios, and attendance data. The report card must be mailed to all parents of the school and the school district. The school, in conjunction with the district board, must also inform the community of the school's report card by advertising the results in at least one South Carolina daily newspaper of general circulation in the area. This notice must be published within ninety days of receipt of the report cards issued by the State Department of Education and must be a minimum of two columns by ten inches (four and one-half by ten inches) with at least a twenty-four point bold headline.

Section 59-8-710. The commission shall develop a comprehensive set of school achievement measures and performance indicators to be published in the annual report card and used to analyze schools' performances. Where appropriate, the indicators should yield disaggregated results. The commission shall consider indicators that provide data in such areas as academic achievement; teachers and administrators; teaching and learning; evaluation of the school by the parents, teachers, and students; curriculum; resources; and attendance to include excused and unexcused student absences.

Section 59-8-720. The report card must focus on the academic performance of students in each school by considering information on student progress and meeting academic standards in core subject areas. The student academic performance measures and, where appropriate, other measures, must be given an absolute and improvement grade. The absolute grade must be based on the percentage of students meeting standard on the state assessment as established by the State Board of Education. The improvement grade must be derived from longitudinal matched student data comparing current performance to the previous year's performance for the purpose of determining student academic growth.

Section 59-8-730. The commission, working with the State Board of Education, shall determine the criteria for measuring school and district absolute and improvement performance using the rating scale of 'A' through 'F'. Only the scores of students enrolled in the school at the time of the forty-five day enrollment count shall be used to determine the absolute and improvement grade of the school.

Section 59-8-740. Beginning in 1999, the Department of Education shall issue report cards to elementary schools, middle schools, and districts of the State on absolute performance measures and indicators no later than November fifteenth. Beginning in 2000, and annually thereafter, the Department of Education shall issue report cards to elementary schools, middle schools, and districts with both absolute and improvement measures, and indicators. Beginning in 2001, the Department of Education shall issue report cards to high schools of the State on absolute performance measures and indicators no later than November fifteenth. Beginning in 2002, and annually thereafter, the Department of Education shall issue report cards to all schools and districts of the State with absolute measures, improvement measures, and indicators.

Section 59-8-750. If a school receives an 'F' for its absolute grade on its report card for any year, the students at that school may at their option transfer to any other school within the district. If a district has only one elementary, middle, or high school and it received an 'F' for its absolute grade or if all such elementary, middle, or high schools in the district received an 'F', the students at those schools may at their option transfer to a school in an adjoining school district and the adjoining district must accept these students as long as space is available. Applicable state and federal funding per student shall follow the students to the adjoining districts. These students may remain at the school to which they transferred until they finish the highest grade offered at that school.

Article 9

Local Accountability Plans

and School Awards

Section 59-8-900. The board of trustees of each school district shall ensure that a district accountability plan be developed, reviewed, and revised annually for the purpose of guiding district and school staff in improving the academic performance of all students. School districts having accountability plans must review their plans to ensure they reinforce the state accountability system. Parents, teachers, and principals shall be involved in the development, review, and revisions of the district's accountability plan. Accountability plans must be incorporated in school and district strategic plans. The plan must address criteria set forth by the commission to include, but not be limited to, rewards, sanctions, and local support and resources targeted to schools in need of improvement. The department shall offer technical support to any district requesting assistance in the development of an accountability plan. Furthermore, the department must conduct a review of accountability plans as part of the peer review process required in Section 59-139-10(H) to ensure strategies are contained in the plans that shall maximize student learning. The department shall submit plans for the peer review process to the commission for approval. School districts not having an approved plan by August 1, 1999, shall be provided a plan by the department within ninety days.

Section 59-8-910. The State Board of Education shall establish a state Palmetto Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Program of recognition and reward for schools with high levels of absolute performance and high rates of improvement based on longitudinally matched student data and any other factors promoting or maintaining high levels of achievement and performance. Schools shall be rewarded according to specific criteria established by the commission. No school is eligible for a reward unless the student achievement performance standard is met. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations that ensure that the districts of the State utilize these funds to improve or maintain exceptional performance in the schools.

Article 11

Assistance for Poorly Performing Schools

Section 59-8-1100. (A) For those schools which want to improve or because of poor results must improve, transformational actions must be implemented. These actions must be accompanied by targeted long-term technical assistance depending upon the degree of weak school performance.

(B) Any year a school is considered at the 'D' level as defined by the commission, the following actions must occur:

(1) the local board of trustees, in consultation with the superintendent and the school principal, shall review the school's strategic plan to determine if the plan focuses on strategies to increase student academic performance and is being appropriately implemented;

(2) if needed, amendments must be made to the school strategic plan which addresses academic deficiencies, and the district board and superintendent must delineate the support and strategies which the district shall give the plan;

(3) the school, in conjunction with the district board, must inform the parents of children attending the school that the school has not met standards by advertising the results of the report card and the strategies outlined in their improvement plan to improve student performance in at least one South Carolina daily newspaper of general circulation in the area. This notice must be published within ninety days of receipt of the report cards issued by the State Department of Education and must be a minimum of two columns by ten inches (four and one-half by ten inches) with at least a twenty-four point bold headline. The notice must include the following information: name of school district, name of superintendent, district office telephone number, name of school, name of principal, telephone number of school, school's absolute grade and improvement grade on student academic performance, and strategies which must be taken by the district and school to improve student performance; and

(4) technical assistance may be requested from the department in the execution of the strategic plans.

Section 59-8-1110. Any year a school is considered at the 'F' level as defined by the commission, the following actions, in addition to the actions for a 'D' level, must occur:

(1) a caretaker team of an equal number of parents from the district and educators for on-site review and targeted long-term technical assistance shall be appointed by the department to determine the extent to which the instructional program is aligned with the content standards and shall make recommendations which draw upon strategies from those who have been successful in raising academic achievement in schools with similar student characteristics. The caretaker team may also make recommendations concerning the continuation of employment of the school's administration, faculty, and staff. The commission in consultation with the State Department of Education shall develop the criteria for the identification of persons to serve as members of a caretaker team; the parent members of the caretaker team must be appointed pursuant to recommendations of the district's School Improvement Council so that a cross-section of each district is represented on the team;

(2) teachers may apply to be considered for selection by the department to provide support in linking research-based best practices to the classroom. Schools may hire teachers receiving incentive funding as defined in Section 59-8-1310 at a rate of one teacher for each grade level with a maximum of five. These teachers shall be hired under three-year teaching and teacher-mentoring contracts for extended work in school improvement. However, an annual review of school-wide assessment results must indicate a level of improvement as defined within the contract that warrants continuation of the contract. In order to attract a pool of qualified applicants, the commission, in consultation with the State Department of Education shall develop the criteria for the identification of teachers with a history of exemplary student academic achievement for the state-funded incentive program. In addition to teaching duties, these teachers must work with individual members of faculties in assigned schools emphasizing needed changes in classroom instructional strategies based upon analyses of assessment data; support teachers in acquiring new skills designed to increase academic performance; participate as a member of the caretaker team; and mentor teachers throughout the contract term;

(3) intensive professional development for the purpose of assisting teachers and principals in implementing the strategies defined by the caretaker team must be provided; and

(4) upon a review of the recommendations made by the caretaker team, the department shall delineate the activities, support, services, and technical assistance it will provide to the school.

Article 13

Incentives and Professional Development

Section 59-8-1300. In order to attract a pool of qualified applicants to work in low-performing schools, the commission, in consultation with the Leadership Academy of the South Carolina Department of Education shall develop criteria for the identification of principals with a history of exemplary student academic achievement for the state-funded incentive program. Local school districts may hire principals, who have agreed to participate, from this pool to fill existing vacancies for three-year leadership contracts in order to link research-based best practices to the school and classroom and to accelerate student achievement gains. However, an annual review of school wide assessment results must indicate a level of improvement as defined within the contract that warrants continuation of the contract. These principals shall be identified by the Leadership Academy in consultation with the commission. These principals must work with individual members of faculties in assigned schools emphasizing needed changes in classroom instructional strategies based upon analyses of assessment data; support teachers in acquiring new skills designed to increase academic performance; participate as a member of the caretaker team; and provide intense monitoring of instruction throughout the contract term.

Section 59-8-1310. In order to effectively recruit teachers and principals with a history of exemplary student academic achievement results an annual financial incentive wage must be offered. Teachers shall be eligible for a state-funded incentive wage equal to fifty percent of the current southeastern average teacher salary as projected by the State Budget and Control Board, Office of Research and Analysis. Principals shall be eligible to receive an incentive wage which must equal 1.264 times the teacher incentive wage. This incentive wage must be paid by the State to principals and teachers who are selected and placed in low performing schools in addition to their regular salary which must be paid by the district. This incentive wage must be paid only for the time placed at the designated low performing school. This incentive wage must not be considered part of the regular salary base for which retirement contributions are deductible by the South Carolina Retirement System pursuant to Section 9-1-1020. Principals and teachers who are selected and placed in low performing schools as defined in Article 11 and Section 59-8-1300 shall be allowed to return to employment with their previous district at the end of the contract period with the same teaching or administrative contract status as when he left, but without assurance as to the school or supplemental position to which he may be assigned.

Section 59-8-1320. The commission shall provide for a comprehensive review of state and local professional development to include principal leadership development and teacher staff development. The review must provide an analysis of training to include what professional development is offered, how it is offered, the support given to implement skills acquired from professional development, and how the professional development enhances the academic goals outlined in district and school strategic plans.

Section 59-8-1330. A subcommittee of the commission comprised of representatives of the business and industry and education appointees shall explore alternatives for the development of an on-going public relations campaign to elicit support for the highest levels of student achievement including how state agencies should incorporate awareness of public education issues and opportunities for involvement into current public relations campaigns. The plan may integrate multiple media and communication efforts in addressing the value of education, interpretation, and use of the accountability system's report card, and a showcase of proven effective practices. The subcommittee shall issue a report of the plan to the commission, the Governor, the Senate, and the House of Representatives by July 1, 1999."

SECTION 2. Chapter 6 of Tittle 59 of the 1976 Code is repealed.

SECTION 3. The General Assembly shall establish a public school assistance fund as a separate fund within the state general fund for the purpose of providing financial support to assist poorly performing schools. The fund may consist of grants, gifts, and donations from any public or private source or monies that may be appropriated by the General Assembly for this purpose. Income from the fund shall be retained in the fund. All funds may be carried forward from fiscal year to fiscal year. The State Treasurer shall invest the monies in this fund in the same manner as other funds under his control are invested. The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Commission, shall administer and authorize any disbursements from the fund. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of this section.

SECTION 4. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 59-24-15. School administrators may be employed on an annual or multi-year contract and shall retain their contract status as a teacher but shall not be granted contract or status as an administrator. Any such administrator who presently is under contract with contract or status as an administrator shall retain that status until the expiration of that contract. Any teacher covered in the provision is subject to employment dismissal provisions of Article No. 3, Chapter No. 19 and Article No. 5, Chapter 25."

SECTION 5. Notwithstanding any provision of law, if a school district has adopted a policy permitting corporal punishment in certain situations, the school district and any employee thereof is immune from any civil or criminal liability as a result of a student of the district being administered corporal punishment in conformity with the district's policy, absent gross negligence or recklessness.

SECTION 6. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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