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Friday, August 01, 2014
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(mgnonline.com)

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Common Core changes go to BESE for consideration

Last Modified: Monday, December 02, 2013 5:05 PM

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Local school boards and public school superintendents will ask the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday for a slow-down of Louisiana's shift to toughened educational standards.

BESE is scheduled to consider a proposal offered by Superintendent of Education John White that would delay for two years the consequences of the new Common Core standards on school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion policies.

While the Louisiana School Boards Association and the Louisiana School Superintendents Association said they support most of White's recommendations, they said Monday that they want BESE to go further.

"We totally support raising the bar with higher standards and increasing student achievement, and we believe that is best achieved through effective, gradual implementation," Scott Richard, executive director of the school boards association, said in a statement.

The organizations are asking the education board to shelve plans for a new type of standardized student test slated to take effect with Common Core and to suspend the state's grading of schools during the transition.

They also don't want a school's performance during the next two years to decide whether a school is eligible for a state takeover — or to determine voucher eligibility for students to use public funding to attend private schools.

Currently, schools deemed failing in the state's grading system can be taken over, and students who otherwise would attend schools with mediocre or failing grades are able to apply for vouchers.

Common Core standards are a tougher set of grade-level benchmarks adopted by most states for what students should learn in English, reading and math.

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core. BESE agreed to use the standards in Louisiana three years ago, and they are being phased into public school classrooms and testing, with plans to have them fully in place by the 2014-15 year.

Critics have said the transition to the standards in Louisiana has happened with too little guidance, training and funding, and they've said school districts, teachers and students were going to be held accountable without enough preparation for the shift.

"The rush to implement these broad-reaching changes is one reason some school boards have publicly opposed Common Core," Richard said.

White is suggesting to BESE that the raising of accountability standards — like grading of students, schools and teachers — to match the Common Core shouldn't start until 2015, with a slow adjustment to toughen the school grades set to phase in through 2025.

He's also agreed to provide curriculum guidelines to school systems, after complaints that districts were left on their own to determine what they should be teaching to meet the standards.

The school boards and superintendents organizations also want state funding to help with upgrading technology to coordinate with the use of the toughened teaching standards.

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