The dreaded iLEAP and Phase 2 LEAP testing have begun in schools across the parish with students, parents and teachers feeling the stress of high-stakes assessment.

All third through eighth grade students in the Morehouse Parish School System will take part in the standarized testing with the third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades taking the iLEAP, which is referred to as an integrated LEAP because it originally combined a criterion-based component, which measured whether a student had mastered the academic standards, with a norm-referenced component (the Iowa Test of Basic Skills), which provided a percentile ranking of students. The iLEAP tests of 2013-14 no longer contain the Iowa portion and are criterion-based only.

Fourth and eighth graders are taking the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP), the series of annual assessments in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Known as a criterion-based test, these tests are aligned to the state academic standards and determine whether a student has mastered the content of the academic standards.

In preparation for these assessments, Louisiana is including more common core aligned content in LEAP and iLEAP tests this year. Students can earn the following scores on annual assessments:

Advanced: A student demonstrates superior performance in the subject.

Mastery: A student demonstrates competency of challenging subject matter and is well prepared for the next level of schooling.

Basic: A student demonstrates only fundamental knowledge and skills in the subject.

Approaching Basic: A student only partially demonstrates the fundamental knowledge and skills of the subject.

Unsatisfactory: A student does not demonstrate the fundamental knowledge and skills.

The state has rules regarding the LEAP scores a student must earn to progress to the fifth and ninth grades. However, for the next two years, districts will have more flexibility to make decisions based on additional academic indicators as the state transitions to new assessments.

In 2014-2015, students in grades third through eighth will take annual assessments in English language arts and mathematics that are fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. These assessments are being developed collaboratively by Louisiana and a coalition of states called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Students across all of these states will be using identical assessments which will allow Louisiana to benchmark its progress against other states.