NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - A special legislative session called by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee starts on Tuesday.
It will address learning loss, funding, accountability, literacy and teacher pay, which were all disrupted by the pandemic.
“The special session is being called in order to address these issues early so we can implement them this year at least by the summer but certainly in this school year,” said Lee.
The state says third graders are facing a 50% drop in reading proficiency and a 65% drop in math proficiency.
The governor says it will get worse if lawmakers don’t act immediately.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption for Tennessee’s students, educators, and districts, and the challenges they face must be addressed urgently,” said Lee. “Even before the virus hit, and despite years of improvement, too many of our state’s students were still unable to read on grade level. I’m calling on the legislature to join us in addressing these serious issues so we can equip our hardworking educators and districts with the resources and supports they need to set our students on the path to success.”
Last week, the governor announced a package of proposals he wants lawmakers to pass.
One requires interventions, like after-school mini-camps and summer learning programs, to help students struggling in reading and math. It also creates a literacy learning corps of tutors to help students throughout the school year.
Another bill helps ensure schools are using a phonics-based approach to teach students to read.
Another bill the governor is pushing would keep students, teachers, schools and districts from facing any negative consequences related to student testing.
Lee says he also wants to increase teacher pay but hasn’t offered specifics.
He says other bills he supports will be announced in the coming days.
The special session starts Tuesday.