bus school students

Advocate file photo

Louisiana has won federal approval to launch pilot projects that will change the way English skills are measured, officials announced Friday morning.

The key change is students will be tested on what they learned after reading passages in a book rather than sections they have not read as part of the curriculum.

Students will be quizzed through brief assessments throughout the school year rather than one long exam at the end of the year.

Also, they will be grilled on both English and social studies to reduce state testing, a longtime complaint of Gov. John Bel Edwards and others.

The pilots will also ensure local control on what books and assessments are used, according to the state Department of Education.

The state has five years to develop the pilots and expand them beyond the initial five schools and districts that will lead the effort.

The pilots are permitted under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which could pave the way for a wide range of changes in public schools.

Only Louisiana, which filed its application in April, and New Hampshire submitted proposals to the U. S. Department of Education.

"Research shows students need deep knowledge of a subject matter in order to effectively read about it," state Superintendent of Education John White said in a statement.

"Louisiana's pilot offers a unique opportunity to develop assessments that support this research," White said. "We are thrilled to be the first state in the nation to receive the authority to explore innovative ways to better assess student achievement."

The new methods will first be tried in the St. Tammany, St. John the Baptist and Ouachita Parish school districts as well as the KIPP Public Charter Schools and College Academies in New Orleans.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.