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Gov. Lee's education fixes for pandemic battered Tenn. schools come into focus

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Gov. Bill Lee has revealed a portion of his agenda for the special legislative session on education he’s ordered to begin this coming Tuesday.

Lee on Thursday released three proposals he hopes will begin to address problems experienced by the state’s K-12 school children. Those problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The first proposal seeks to address student learning loss. State data suggests disruptions to learning resulting from the health crisis are responsible for a 50% drop in reading proficiency and a 65 loss in math proficiency.

Tennessee Senate Bill 7002 would provide struggling students with opportunities to make up lost ground. Passage of the bill would fund after school sessions, mini-camps and summer learning camps beginning this coming summer.

A second measure, Senate Bill 7003, is designed to address a loss in reading proficiency. The measure would require school systems to adopt a phonics based approach to reading for K-3 students. It would also provide assessment tools for parents and additional training for teachers.

The third proposal released by the governor on Thursday would temporarily set aside some academic assessment requirements. Senate bill 7001 would prevent teachers and students from being penalized for low test scores over the next two school years.

In a press statement, Gov. Lee says additional legislation will be sent to lawmakers soon. Among them will be a request to increase teacher pay.

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