State education leaders are asking Gov. John Bel Edwards and federal officials to waive standardized testing and other rules amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Part of the request was spelled out in a letter Monday to the governor by Sandy Holloway, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and House Education Committee Chairman Ray Garafolo, R-Chalmette.

"In the unprecedented times we face, we must afford our educators the most flexibility in the important work they do," the letter says.

"This will allow educators to move forward and focus their attention on keeping students and teachers healthy and safe."

While Edwards has ordered public schools closed until April 13, educators say they have been besieged with questions from parents and others about test requirements, including standardized exams that were scheduled for late March and early April.

Holloway asked Edwards to waive statewide testing rules for the 2019-20 school year as well as annual teacher evaluations, which are based in part on test results.

Other laws that would be shelved under the request include the minimum number of days teachers have to work in a school year, public school accountability assessments, charter school evaluations, tests for private schools that enroll voucher students and Louisiana's mandatory attendance law.

Edwards' proclamation, which he issued last Friday, waived the requirement that students attend schools a certain number of minutes during the school year, which means schools will not have to make up days lost by the coronavirus closings.

Holloway and Acting State Superintendent of Education Beth Scioneaux are also submitting a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education on 2019-20 state assessment and accountability requirements.

The state plans  to offer optional state assessments for schools and parents who want them.

Holloway has already shelved annual school performance scores and letter grades, which are usually announced in the fall.

That is allowed under a provision that takes effect when schools are closed for more than 18 days.

Yearly letter grades are based in part on key tests that are expected to be canceled.

Diploma requirements for graduating high school seniors, including minutes per course, have been set aside as well as end-of-course exams for high school students and promotion rules for fourth- and eighth-graders.

Officials who oversee the ACT, which measures college readiness, said national tests set for April 4 have been pushed back to June 13.

Students who were registered to take the exam next month will get an email in the next few days from officials of the group, which is based in Iowa City, Iowa.

"ACT is committed to making every effort to help those students impacted by this test date change, particularly those high school seniors who are facing deadlines for fall 2020 college admission," Marten Roorda, chief executive officer of the ACT said in a statement.

More information is available at www.ACT.org.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.