BESE votes to challenge Jindal on Common Core _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- John White (right), State Superintendent and Chas Roemer (left), president of BESE, address the board Tuesday, July 29, 2014, during a BESE meeting in the Claiborne Building.

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday accused the state’s top school board and the Louisiana Department of Education of ignoring the pleas of parents who want their children to skip upcoming Common Core tests.

Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, disputed the governor’s comments and said “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“It’s time for the Department of Education and BESE to really listen to the repeated concerns from parents about Common Core and the PARCC assessments,” Jindal said in a prepared statement.

“Parents and teachers have clearly articulated their frustrations at meetings across the state, and many of them are loudly voicing their opposition to these tests,” the governor said.

PARCC is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It is the consortium that will be used for questions when students are quizzed on March 16-20.

Common Core represents new standards in reading, writing and math designed to improve student achievement.

Jindal opposes the overhaul — he says it is an intrusion on local school issues — and hopes the Legislature will vote to scrap the standards and accompanying tests during the session that begins on April 13.

The governor last Friday proposed that students who want to opt out of the test be given alternate assessments.

Roemer rejected the request, and on Wednesday he said BESE members and others have long sought feedback from parents in the run-up to implementation of Common Core.

“What the governor is suggesting basically would dismantle the entire accountability process that we have in this state,” he said.

“It is a real disservice to our state on the eve of testing for the governor to cause this much chaos,” Roemer said. “That is a disservice to all parents and all students and all educators.”

State education leaders say students who skip the tests will produce zeroes for themselves, their schools and school districts.

Some superintendents say they are fearful that, if enough students opt out of the exam, their school and district performance scores will be hurt.

Common Core test backers say it is impractical for students to take alternate exams and that doing so would derail any meaningful comparisons with other states.

Whether the opt out campaign is widespread is unclear.

About 300,000 students in grades three through eight are scheduled to take the tests.

Results will be available in the fall.

Some school boards have approved resolutions seeking BESE action to prevent schools and districts from being penalized if students skip the exams.

“Ignoring and downplaying those concerns are wrong and we want parents to know that we stand with them in their fight to get Common Core out of Louisiana,” Jindal said in his prepared statement.

The governor, who is set to discuss Common Core in an address in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, was traveling and unavailable for comment, a spokesman said.

Roemer said test plans will likely be on the agenda when BESE meets on March 5-6.

BESE member Lottie Beebe, who lives in Breaux Bridge, requested action on the issue last week after a bid by four panel members to hold a special meeting on the topic failed.

A bid to reopen debate on the exams failed at BESE’s January meeting.

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