Miles: Bills to be filed to remove U.S. history as assessment requirement

House Bill 206 allocated an additional $30.5 million to counties in the form of block grants so...
House Bill 206 allocated an additional $30.5 million to counties in the form of block grants so schools could hire new personnel, train existing staff, invest in programs and contract for outside services.<br />(WSAZ)
Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 7:31 PM CST
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Mississippi requires high school students to take four subject area tests, English, algebra, biology and U.S. history. The history test is the only one that is not required by the federal government or state law, and some people want to scrap the test. But recent attempts hit a roadblock.

The question of whether students are tested too much generates a lot of feedback. And those concerns made it all the way through one process only to be stopped at the end.

Rep. Tom Miles has made those public outcries part of the conversation at the Capitol in recent years.

"The students don't want it, the principals don't want it,' said Miles. "But the Mississippi Department of Education seems to think they know better than teachers that are already in the classroom every day."

Miles is referring to the testing task force that was formed. It polled teachers to find out if they thought the U.S. history test should stay as a graduation requirement.

"I think a lot of educators feel like their concerns have just been set aside," said task force member, Kelly Riley. "Multiple surveys repeatedly showed that basically a 3 to 1 response was (to) eliminate the assessment. It's not necessary. It would free up funds. It will lessen the focus and stress related to assessments."

So, we asked, what's next?

"Myself and other legislators plan to file bills this year to do away with the United States history test," Miles said.

If at first you don't succeed, try again. That's one way to describe what's happening here.

Despite the recommendation of the task force, the State Board of Education voted to keep the U.S. history test, saying members expressed concern that the removal of the assessment could lessen the importance of U.S. history in schools. Miles makes this note.

"We're not trying to eliminate U.S. history," he said. "We're not trying to eliminate any kind of history classes. We want to actually let history teachers teach history and not have to teach to that standardized test."

If the legislature votes to approve a bill to do away with the U.S. history exam, that path would not need approval by the State Board of Education.