Despite some grumbling, Louisiana’s top school board is expected to approve, with few changes, revisions to the Common Core academic standards.
A committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to meet at 1 p.m. Thursday to discuss the recommendations of the 26-member Standards Review Committee.
The full board then takes a vote on Friday during a meeting that starts at 9 a.m.
Jim Garvey, president of BESE, said while it is only a guess, he thinks the recommendations of educators and others will win approval with few changes.
“If BESE members had an issue about what is being proposed, I normally would have heard rumbling,” Garvey said. “And I haven’t heard any.”
Barry Erwin, president of the pro-Common Core group Council for a Better Louisiana, said he expects little controversy on an issue that, in the past, has triggered hours of heated arguments.
“I think they are just going to approve it,” Erwin said of BESE. “I don’t sense any desire to send people back to the drawing board on this.”
The standards, which have sparked controversy off and on for the past 30 months, were studied by about 100 educators during formal and informal meetings that spanned six months.
The review stemmed from a 2015 state law aimed at defusing the controversy.
The review committee suggested changes to about 20 percent of the state’s 1,287 benchmarks in reading and math. That list includes steps to give teachers more latitude on how academic goals are taught, greater clarity on what is expected and adjustments to make the standards more age-appropriate.
Kathy Edmonston, a BESE member who lives in Gonzales, is among those concerned that the new benchmarks are a mere rebranding of the earlier ones.
“There are only 20 percent that are changed,” Edmonston said. “The meat of Common Core is still there.”
The revisions will be studied by BESE’s Academic Goals and Instructional Improvements Committee on Thursday.
Any version approved by the panel is expected to be endorsed by the full board on Friday.
Holly Boffy, vice president of BESE, echoed Garvey’s view that any push to overhaul the recommendations of the Standards Review Committee is unlikely.
“I am really proud of the work educators have done in this process and excited about the recommendations,” said Boffy, a Lafayette resident who chairs the Academic Goals committee.
The 2015 law that set up the review process requires BESE to act on the revisions by Friday.
The issue then goes to the state House and Senate education committees and Gov. John Bel Edwards for up-or-down votes.
Edwards, a Common Core critic, has not decided whether the recommended changes are worth endorsing, the governor’s special counsel Erin Monroe Wesley said Tuesday.
One issue that may spark arguments is when any revised standards should take effect.
State Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core backer, has said state law requires the revised standards to be put in place for the 2016-17 school year.
But Hollis Milton, president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, said more time is needed to avoid implementation problems that he said plagued the initial rollout.
“We hope that the standards and resources recommended by the committee will be reviewed vigorously through the legislative process and are ready for implementation in ’17-’18,” Milton said in an email response to questions.
Garvey, of Metairie, said proposed changes in the standards carry additional weight because members of the review panels were suggested by local school board members, who heard many of the complaints about the original version.
Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, called the recommended changes “very, very minimal” and likely to win BESE approval.
Meaux said the state needs a standing committee to revamp the standards when problems arise rather than doing so on seven-year cycles.