Lawmakers try new angle to kill Common Core tests

Superintendent of Education John White

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Seventeen state lawmakers Friday asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to veto rule changes passed by the state education board as a way to jettison Louisiana’s use of standardized tests tied to the Common Core education standards.
Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, one of the chief legislative critics of Common Core, sent a letter along with other colleagues in the House, saying the governor could ditch the tests by vetoing rules involving the standards.
At issue is the state education department’s plan to use the tests from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
“In our view, nothing is lost by exiting PARCC. There are a number of more acceptable, less intrusive assessment options that still help ensure Louisiana students are getting the best, most rigorous education possible,” Geymann and the other lawmakers wrote to Jindal.
Superintendent of Education John White said rejecting the rules adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education won’t stop Louisiana’s use of the PARCC tests. He called the maneuver proposed by the lawmakers “an illusion.”
White said a state law passed in 2012 requires public school students to be tested in a way that allows for comparisons to students in other states, and he said the planned testing complies with the law.
“It’s not going to stop it because there’s a law on the books telling us to do this,” White said.
But the state hasn’t yet purchased the PARCC tests, and Geymann and other Common Core critics are looking for ways to intervene before the state enters into a contract for the testing.
Supporters of Common Core and the PARCC testing say they promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. They say the tests were developed with strong input from Louisiana educators and allow for performance comparison with students in other states.
Critics of the tests oppose them as part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that they say would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.
Jindal opposes PARCC, but the Legislature so far has killed efforts to stop use of the tests in public school classrooms or to stop Louisiana’s use of the Common Core standards.
“Because they have failed in the legislative process, they’re trying to go through the back door and the procurement process,” White said of Geymann and the other lawmakers who signed the letter to Jindal.
The governor issued a statement saying he would review whether the veto sought by the lawmakers was a viable option.
“If the Legislature does not act, we could consider this and other options. However, since we are in the midst of session, we are hopeful that the Legislature will take action to alleviate the concerns of parents with the PARCC test,” Jindal said.
Chas Roemer, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, urged the governor not to follow the veto advice. He noted that Jindal, considered a 2016 presidential contender, has repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for using his executive powers to make sweeping decisions without working through Congress.
“I would find it shocking if he would. This is a maneuver that’s outside of the legislative process. It’s the same kind of maneuver that he’s attacked President Obama for doing,” Roemer said. “It would mirror the same thing he’s criticized.”

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