The rate of students skipping Common Core exams remains about 1 percent of potential test takers statewide, state Superintendent of Education John White said Tuesday.
“There are a number of outlier districts, really four of them, Jackson, Red River, Calcasieu and Central Community, where the percentage of students who are not taking part appears to be significantly greater than the 1 percent statewide,” White told reporters.
Nearly 316,000 students in grades three through eight were scheduled to take the exams on the second of five days of questions.
The test comes from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
White said the Calcasieu Parish school system in southwest Louisiana accounts for a huge portion — 36 percent — of the 4,363 students skipping the exams.
He said Calcasieu includes 4 percent of public school students statewide and that half of those skipping the tests there come from four of 48 schools administering the exams.
“You are talking about an issue that is confined to an outlier set of schools, not just school districts,” White said.
Whether students take the test has become the latest, highly charged topic around Common Core because students who do so produce zeroes for their schools on annual school performance scores.
Those scores are linked to state-issued letter grades.
Some superintendents, especially in smaller school districts, say that a large number of students who opt out of the exams, especially if they are high-achieving students, will damage school scores later this year.
White said he plans to meet individually with superintendents of at least the four districts with the highest rates of students missing the exams.
“A face-to-face meeting is the best way to understand their situation, to understand the local context,” he said.
Common Core represents new standards in reading, writing and math.
Backers contend the revamped guidelines will improve student achievement and allow for meaningful comparisons with students in other states.
Opponents argue that Common Core is a case of federal meddling in local school issues.
On Monday, test participation rates were 92 percent in Central, 88 percent in Calcasieu, 94 percent in Red River and 87 percent in Jackson.
The latter two districts are in north central and northwest Louisiana.
Participation rates totaled 100 percent in the East Baton Rouge Parish School District; 100 percent, Jefferson Parish; 99 percent, St. Tammany Parish; 99 percent, Lafayette Parish; 99 percent, Ascension Parish; and 98 percent, Zachary School District.