A member of Louisiana’s top school board said she and three other panel members want a special meeting to discuss upcoming Common Core tests, including students who skip the exams.
Lottie Beebe, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made her comments in an email Wednesday to BESE President Chas Roemer.
Beebe said those seeking the special meeting are her; Jane Smith, of Bossier City; Carolyn Hill, of Baton Rouge; and Mary Harris, of Shreveport.
Beebe, Smith and Hill are veteran BESE members who have long criticized issues surrounding the new academic standards, including test plans.
Harris, who was recently named by Gov. Bobby Jindal to fill an unexpired term, has expressed concerns about the new classroom guidelines, which took full effect at the start of the current school year.
At her first meeting earlier this month, Harris tried to add Common Core test plans to the board’s March agenda.
State Superintendent of Education John White said that, if such an item was added to the agenda, it would mean that BESE would be grappling with the issue one week before about 300,000 students take the tests.
Harris’ proposal failed 4-7.
Neither Beebe nor Roemer returned calls for comment.
Common Core is a series of new standards in reading, writing and math.
The dispute over test plans is just the latest in a controversy that has gone on for 17 months.
Beebe, who is superintendent of the St. Martin Parish school system, said if there is no special BESE meeting on exam plans, she wants the topic added to the March agenda.
“There is growing concern relative to students who will opt out of testing,” she said in her email.
“I might add that there is also confusion among superintendents and central staff personnel regarding consequences assigned to those students who opt out of testing,” Beebe wrote.
“I have been told ‘This will be a local decision.’ This is an unacceptable response. BESE needs to make the decision so there will be a consistent process in place statewide,” the email says.
How widespread the interest is in skipping the test is in dispute.
A mother in Lafayette has said she has asked that two of her children not take the exams.
The office of Jindal, a former Common Core backer who now opposes the standards, issued a press statement Thursday that quoted news accounts of two families in northwest Louisiana opting out of the exams.
DeSoto Parish Superintendent Cade Brumley said in an email Thursday that the issue is urgent, comes up daily in his school system and that “a number” of parents plan to have their children opt out of the test.
“While I certainly respect their decision, this will have a negative impact on both school and district performance scores,” Brumley wrote.
Students who opt not to take the tests will trigger zeroes for their schools and district, according to officials in the state Department of Education.
However, several district leaders in southeast Louisiana say they are not hearing similar requests in their school systems.
Some school districts plan to link test results in part to whether students are promoted.
Students in grades three through eight are set to take the test with questions from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
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