Education

Apr 17, 2014 5:12 PM by associated press

Education chief: Testing critics don't have plan

Continued efforts to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers, Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal supports legislation - so far defeated - that would jettison Louisiana's use of standardized testing from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, a consortium of states that developed the tests.

Jindal said this week if lawmakers don't scrap the tests, he'd consider trying to remove Louisiana from the PARCC consortium himself. White said Jindal and other critics of PARCC don't have a viable option for what standardized tests they'd use instead. He said developing new tests would cost more money, and he said there's no time with only a few weeks left in the school year.

"This is when teachers historically are planning for next year. But without state and local leadership giving them clarity about what they should be teaching, they are existing in a state of chaos," White said in an interview.

The new standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year. Field testing was done earlier this month with nearly 25,000 students across 500 schools taking sample versions of the tests. Eight lawmakers sent Jindal a letter Monday asking the Republican governor to end Louisiana's use of the PARCC tests. Jindal called the proposal "a viable option if the Legislature does not act." Efforts to kill the testing and to have the state develop its own educational standards rather than use the Common Core failed in the House Education Committee earlier this session, despite Jindal's backing.

Supporters of Common Core and the PARCC testing say they promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. They say the tests were developed with strong input from Louisiana educators and are more rigorous than Louisiana's current slate of standardized tests. Critics of the tests oppose them as part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that they say would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.

Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, and other lawmakers who signed the letter say Jindal can remove the state from the testing consortium himself.

But the state's PARCC agreement signed in 2010 says Louisiana can withdraw only with written notice signed by the governor, the education superintendent and the president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. White and BESE President Chas Roemer are ardent supporters of Common Core and the associated testing.

White said that even if Louisiana chose to end its agreement with PARCC, the state has no other tests to put in place next school year.

"This is a multiyear plan that those who are trying to undo it are approaching in a fly-by-night way," he said. "If you are going to have a Louisiana-specific test, it's going to cost millions of dollars. We have no more time in the school year left to develop it, and it's going to confuse teachers mightily."

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