Our nation’s school systems are spending growing amounts of time and money on high-stakes tests in which student performance is used to make major decisions concerning our schools, teachers and, most importantly, our children. Louisiana is no exception. The overemphasis on standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems hampers educators’ abilities to focus on providing students with the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity and deep subject-matter knowledge needed to help them thrive in an increasingly global society. It is very clear that the testing regime is a major concern for families, and as a result, parents across the United States are opting to take their children out of state-mandated standardized testing. There is no doubt that opting out of testing carries unintended consequences for kids, teachers and school districts. Since the movement is now picking up speed in Louisiana, LAE urges that the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White and Gov. Jindal issue unambiguous guidance to school districts addressing the ramifications for Louisiana families and schools when opt-outs are pursued. In addition to this guidance, LAE asks BESE and the state legislature to consider several key policy goals to address the Common Core Standards and testing in Louisiana.

Louisiana must convene a workgroup to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math. This workgroup should then report back its findings and suggest any necessary modifications to the standards. After needed revisions are made, an appropriate state assessment instrument must then be developed or procured; this instrument must be aligned to the modified standards. During this time of transition and until a properly aligned state assessment is validated, LAE proposes that BESE implement a “hold-harmless period” whereby parents, students, teachers and school districts will not be negatively impacted.

LAE will continue to push for a reduction in the state’s testing mandates, thus allowing educators to turn their focus back to the broad range of student learning experiences needed to support our children and improve Louisiana public schools.

Deborah Meaux

president, Louisiana Association of Educators

Baton Rouge