Jindal leader: Summer test scores won't be delayed
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration said Thursday that public school fourth-graders and eighth-graders who retook their standardized tests this summer should get their results on time, despite Jindal's suspension of the testing contract.
The retests for students who previously failed the high-stakes tests are used to determine if the students advance to the next grade, and Superintendent of Education John White had suggested Jindal's actions on the contract could stall scoring.
A flurry of memos, emails and phone calls over the summer tests was part of the continued haggling over Jindal's attempt to undermine Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states.
Jindal wants the state out of Common Core, while White and other education leaders support the use of the grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math.
The Republican governor recently suspended the education department's testing contract with Data Recognition Corporation, to stop White from buying testing material tied to Common Core standards for grades three through eight.
White sent a memo to local superintendents Wednesday evening telling them the contract suspension means the summer retests couldn't be scored on time. He said schools shouldn't ship any retests to the contractor for scoring.
"We understand this creates a significant problem for students and families, especially those awaiting promotion per graduation determinations, and we hope that, either through administrative resolution or legal action, the contract suspension is resolved," White wrote.
But Jindal's top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, said Thursday she notified Data Recognition Corporation that the test scoring will be paid, along with other contract services that don't involve bringing in new Common Core testing material.
"I assured DRC we would pay them for the services," Nichols said.
Nichols said she notified White, who then sent a follow-up memo to superintendents telling them it appeared summer test results won't be stalled.
"While it does not provide assurance of stability and clarity for the school year to come, the communication does indicate that pick-up and scoring services will resume imminently and that summer results will not be delayed significantly," White wrote.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has a special meeting scheduled for next Tuesday to discuss whether to take legal action against the Jindal administration.
Jindal says the education department didn't follow state law in choosing which testing material it plans to use in classrooms next year. BESE President Chas Roemer and John White disagree, saying the governor has overstepped his legal authority in his actions against the testing contract and the department's testing plans.
The Common Core standards were developed by states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. Jindal said the federal government is trying to use Common Core to control local curriculum and educational systems.
But the governor can't directly shut down their use in classrooms, and lawmakers rejected attempts to replace Common Core with Louisiana-specific education standards.