State House Education Committee Summer Study Agenda Includes Higher Ed Bills and TDOE Topics


The agenda for the two-day State House Education Summer Study released Wednesday includes five bills addressing higher education as well as topics related to K-12 education from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE).

The summer study is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, October 9 and 10, respectively.

The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Mark White (R-Memphis), consists of 23 members in addition to the Chair and Vice-Chair, Representative Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville).

Three subcommittees, Curriculum, Testing & innovation; Higher Education; and K-12 are headed up by Representative Debra Moody (R-Covington), Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) and John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), respectively.

Day one of the agenda, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9, includes the K-12 education topics of Early Grades Literacy and a TDOE update on assessment and the RFP (request for proposal) to Pearson.

As Chalkbeat reported in late June, TDOE signed a two-year $40 million contract with Pearson to take over the administration of the troubled TNReady assessments from Questar.

The state has an option for annual renewal terms up to an additional three years with Pearson, putting the five-year cost at $93.1 million.  Such a five-year agreement with Pearson would represent a significant savings from the $30 million per year agreement the state had with Questar the past three years.

This isn’t the first time TDOE has resorted to working with Pearson.

Pearson developed, administered and scored tests for grades 3 through 8 and end-of-course exams for high school students from 2003 through 2014, reported Chalkbeat. Then, in 2016, the company was awarded an emergency contract to score TNReady assessments before going with Questar on a more permanent basis.

For the 2019-2020 school year, assessments will be taken on paper as TDOE transitions to Pearson.

The five House bills related to higher education that had no action during the session but were deferred to summer study and appear on the agenda for October 10 are:

  • HB 379 sponsored by Representative London Lamar (D-Memphis), requires Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation to promulgate rules designating pregnancy as an approved medical leave of absence for purposes of the Tennessee HOPE scholarship.
  • HB 497 sponsored by Representative Chris Hurt (R-Halls) expands the definition of “eligible independent postsecondary institution” to include certain private postsecondary institutions for purposes of scholarships and grants funded from net proceeds of the state lottery.
  • HB 126 sponsored by Representative Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville) requires the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to create a baccalaureate degree for veterans who retire with 20 years of service; requires each state institution of higher education that offers a baccalaureate degree program to award the degree created by the commission.
  • HB 638 sponsored by Representative Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) requires each governing board of a state institution of higher learning to perform a cost-benefit analysis for each institution under the governing board’s authority; requires each governing board to report the results of each cost-benefit analysis performed to the Education committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives by October 1 of each year.
  • HB 783 sponsored by Representative Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville) requires a medical student in good academic standing with an accredited medical college in this state to receive priority consideration over a medical student attending a medical college outside of this state in the process of assigning clinical rotations to a healthcare facility contracting with a state medical school or accepting state funding.

The full agenda for the two-day House Education Committee summer study scheduled for October 9 and 10 can be viewed here.

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Tennessee Capital” by FaceMePLS. CC BY 2.0.




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One Thought to “State House Education Committee Summer Study Agenda Includes Higher Ed Bills and TDOE Topics”

  1. 83ragtop50

    A lot more could be saved (and education advanced) by eliminating the horrible TN Ready.