(1) The State Department of Education shall provide an instructional program and establish guidelines and procedures for managing such program in the public schools within the school districts throughout the state as part of the State Program of Educational Accountability and Assessment of Performance as prescribed in Section 37-3-46 . Public school districts may (a) elect to adopt the instructional program and management system provided by the State Department of Education, or (b) elect to adopt an instructional program and management system which meets or exceeds criteria established by the State Department of Education for such. This provision shall begin with the courses taught in Grades K-8 which contain skills tested through the Mississippi Basic Skills Assessment Program and shall proceed through all secondary school courses mandated for graduation and all secondary school courses in the Mississippi end-of-course testing program. Other state core objectives must be included in the district's instructional program as they are provided by the State Department of Education along with instructional practices, resources, evaluation items and management procedures. Districts are encouraged to adapt this program and accompanying procedures to all other instructional areas. The department shall provide that such program and guidelines, or a program and guidelines developed by a local school district which incorporates the core objectives from the curriculum structure are enforced through the performance-based accreditation system. It is the intent of the Legislature that every effort be made to protect the instructional time in the classroom and reduce the amount of paperwork which must be completed by teachers. The State Department of Education shall take steps to insure that school districts properly use staff development time to work on the districts' instructional management plans.
(2) The State Department of Education shall provide such instructional program and management guidelines which shall require for every public school district that:
(a) All courses taught in Grades K-8 which contain skills which are tested through the Mississippi Basic Skills Assessment Program, all secondary school courses mandated for graduation, and all courses in the end-of-course testing program shall include the State Department of Education's written list of learning objectives.
(b) The local school board must adopt the objectives that will form the core curriculum which will be systematically delivered throughout the district.
(c) The set of objectives provided by the State Department of Education must be accompanied by suggested instructional practices and resources that would help teachers organize instruction so as to promote student learning of the objectives. Objectives added by the school district must also be accompanied by suggested instructional practices and resources that would help teachers organize instruction. The instructional practices and resources that are identified are to be used as suggestions and not as requirements that teachers must follow. The goal of the program is to have students to achieve the desired objective and not to limit teachers in the way they teach.
(d) Standards for student performance must be established for each core objective in the local program and those standards establish the district's definition of mastery for each objective.
(e) There shall be an annual review of student performance in the instructional program against locally established standards. When weaknesses exist in the local instructional program, the district shall take action to improve student performance.
(3) The State Board of Education and the board of trustees of each school district shall adopt policies to limit and reduce the number and length of written reports that classroom teachers are required to prepare.
(4) This section shall not be construed to limit teachers from using their own professional skills to help students master instructional objectives, nor shall it be construed as a call for more detailed or complex lesson plans or any increase in testing at the local school district level.
(5) Districts meeting the highest levels of accreditation standards, as defined by the State Board of Education, shall be exempted from the provisions of subsection (2) of this section.
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