May 5, 2014 8:01 PM by katc
A back-door effort to undermine Louisiana's use of testing tied to Common Core education standards failed to win support Monday from a House committee, the latest blow to lawmakers seeking to stall the standards.
The House Appropriations Committee voted 12-10 against a bill by Rep. Brett Geymann to require legislative approval before the education department could spend money on the standardized tests tied to Common Core.
Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said his bill would provide legislative oversight of spending and give lawmakers more information about testing contracts that cost millions of dollars.
"It doesn't prohibit anything. It just requires a legislative vote," he said.
At issue is the state education department's plan to use the tests from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
While Geymann suggested the bill wouldn't necessarily end use of the PARCC tests, supporters of the proposal made it clear that was the result they wanted.
"The PARCC assessment is bogus," said Beth Appleton, a parent who spoke in support of Geymann's bill. "It's a waste of money."
Opponents said Geymann's proposal could disrupt public school classrooms and testing plans that have been in the works for nearly four years. They said if the state scraps use of the PARCC tests, school districts would be left in chaos, with no standardized tests to measure students.
Jason Hughes, with the education group Stand For Children Louisiana, said districts have spent millions of dollars to get ready for the PARCC testing.
"I think it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to just let that money go down the drain," Hughes said.
Superintendent of Education John White said the bill had sweeping implications, affecting at least a dozen tests across school districts and requiring 150 local education agencies to get approval to administer tests they've used for years.
"It has vast implications," White said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's office supported the measure, but no one from his office spoke during the testimony. Jindal has said he'll consider ways to shelve Louisiana's use of the PARCC tests unilaterally if lawmakers don't make the decision themselves. But it's unclear if the Republican governor has the authority to stop the assessments from being used in classrooms.
Lawmakers opposed to Common Core have failed to win support for several efforts to scrap the standards.
Supporters of Common Core and the PARCC testing say they promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and allow for comparison of student performance across states. Opponents of the standards oppose them as part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that they say would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.