House agrees to delay Common Core impact on grades, teacher evaluations, student promotion

Notes from the La. Legislature’s regular session

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The House agreed Wednesday to delay the consequences of Louisiana’s shift to Common Core education standards for three years, one year longer than state education board policy.
The proposal by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, would mean that public school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion wouldn’t be affected by the standardized testing associated with Common Core until the 2016-17 school year.
Lawmakers in the House sent the measure (House Bill 953) to the Senate for consideration with a 63-33 vote.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had delayed the implementation until the 2015-16 year. But Leger said the state should provide another year to make sure teachers and students adjust to the tougher standards before their achievement is graded.
“This is the patient and responsible approach to moving forward,” Leger said.
Before passing the proposal, the House also decided to change BESE’s plans for how schools will be graded in the transition period.
The education board wanted to grade on a curve. An amendment by Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, narrowly added to the bill would scrap the curve and keep schools with the same letter grade they had in the 2012-13 school year unless the school district improves its performance, until the 2016-17 school year.
Leger’s bill faces opposition from supporters of Common Core who say no further delays are needed and critics of the standards who say the proposal doesn’t address larger problems with Common Core.

House OKs expanded role for optometrists
A bill that would expand the scope of practice for optometrists, allowing them to perform certain types of eye surgery though they didn’t go through medical school, received the support of the House in a 66-30 vote Wednesday.
Ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors and currently can perform such procedures, oppose the change. That opposition last year sidelined a similar proposal. But Rep. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, brought a revamped version of the measure this year, with more limitations.
Pope said the expansion would give people greater access to eye care. He said his bill (House Bill 1065) would prohibit optometrists from performing any injections into the eye and from using anesthesia.
Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, opposed the proposal, saying it would create two sets of surgical standards.
“This is an uncomfortable position to be placed in since we don’t really have the expertise,” Carmody said.
The heavily lobbied bill (House Bill 1065) moves next to the Senate for consideration.

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