Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday urged Louisiana’s top school board to let students who plan to skip Common Core tests in March take alternate assessments.
Jindal, in an unusual executive “order,” said such a move would be preferable to “penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.”
Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, waved off the request.
“The governor has proven time and time again he will do whatever he can to disrupt this process,” Roemer said in a prepared statement.
State education leaders have said that students who skip the tests March 16-20 will result in scores of zero for the school and district on annual performance ratings. Those performance scores shape all-important letter grades given to schools and districts.
Some superintendents have said the boycott threat means BESE should take action to prevent districts from being unfairly penalized.
How many students plan to skip the tests is unclear, with scattered reports of plans to do so in the Lafayette, DeSoto, Bossier and a few other districts.
About 300,000 students in grades three through eight are scheduled to take the exams.
Other superintendents have said that students who skip the assessments may endanger their grade promotions under local district rules.
On Thursday, four BESE members asked Roemer to call a special meeting of the panel, in part to grapple with how to handle cases where students avoid the exams.
Roemer, in his written response to Jindal’s request, said no changes are planned after five years of planning.
“The executive order has no constitutional authority over the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education,” he said. “We think it’s important that students take the test, as state assessments are the bedrock of our accountability system.”
Common Core represents new standards in reading, writing and math.
Jindal is a former Common Core backer who now opposes the standards and the exams that go with them.
The questions are set to come from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
The Jindal administration is already trying to derail test plans in court.
However, test backers won the first round in the 19th Judicial District Court last August.
BESE is set to meet on March 5-6.
The panel has twice endorsed Common Core.
In a news release that accompanied Jindal’s order, his office said the action follows “multiple reports of parents opting their children” out of the exams.
The governor’s directive says “nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessments” are widely available for use by Louisiana students instead of the planned PARCC tests.
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