The Mississippi State Board of Education announced the suspension of key policies to manage the impact of extended school closures due to COVID-19.

Several major policies got axed in the wake of the virus, most of which grant graduation or promotion despite the missed time, and the board gave power to local school districts to decide policies regarding grading, promotion, retention and graduation.

Members of the Class of 2020 will be able to graduate if they meet all district and state requirements. The requirement to take end-of-course assessments was suspended for seniors taking Algebra I, English II, biology and U.S. History because the tests cannot be administered in the spring.This extends to any student between seventh and 12th grades taking state testing, and all other requirement options are waived as well.

The MDE also said that districts have the power to determine a process for awarding credits for courses that are incomplete for the 2019-20 school year.

“Local school boards have the authority to suspend or amend their graduation policies for the 2019-20 school year, provided the policies continue to meet state standards,” a Mississippi Department of Education press release states.

Also, third-graders who normally are required to take a state reading test to determine if they can advance to the fourth grade are allowed to move up to the next grade as long as they meet all other district requirements for promotion.

The state education preparation program also felt the effects of the virus. All candidates seeking admission to a state-approved programs for obtaining a teaching license before Dec. 31, 2021, are exempt from the program’s testing criteria.

“The exemption extends through the 2021 calendar year to mitigate the impact of a prolonged suspension of candidate testing nation-wide,” the MDE release explains.

College students also have some changes to their requirements. Specifically, any student seeking a licensure to teach is no longer required to meet the 12-week minimum of full-day student teaching to become licensed to teach.

Previously the board voted to suspend all required federal and state assessments for the 2019-20 school year, sought a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for federal accountability requirement and voted to allow school districts to forego the 180-day requirement per school year state law. The U.S. Department of Education approved all measures.

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