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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Standardized test battle continues in Louisiana

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  • The back-and-forth between Governor Bobby Jindal and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE board, over standardized testing based on Common Core standards continued on Thursday as BESE sent a letter to the governor detailing a potential compromise for the state's standardized tests during the coming school year.
    In their letter, the BESE board presented solutions for both the upcoming 2014 to 2015 school year, for which a testing contract already existed, and for future school years.
    For the upcoming year, the board suggested that the contractor awarded testing services contracts through June 30, 2015 continue to be used to deliver and administer the LEAP test through the end of the contract term. This suggestion would make it necessary for the Commission of Administration Kristy Nichols to lift a current suspension.
    The board also wants to add questions Louisiana created as part of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) process to the 2014 to 2015 LEAP test questions created through the historical development process.
    BESE highlighted that, under this plan, the Department of Education would not need to enter into subcontracts for new questions and would still be meeting a legal mandate for testing based on "nationally recognized content standards."
    For the future, the board wants to begin a bidding process when current contracts expire and have a contractor selected by the end of 2014 to give educators lead time for 2015 to 2016 test preparation. BESE highlighted that PARCC is only a collaborative effort among states to design a better standardized test and will not apply under the request for proposals for testing services and will not be a subcontractor.
    The board also took the governor to task for expressing his concerns about the standardized tests so late.
    "As it stands today, in four and a half weeks, when the doors to schools open statewide, our state will be sending 50,00 teachers off on another leg of this ambitious journey without clarity," BESE's letter stated. "For the sake of our parents and teachers, as well as our students and our state as a whole, we cannot permit this to happen. We must provide them immediate clarity while complying with the law's requirements that the 2014 to 2015 tests be based on nationally recognized standards."
    After receiving the proposal, the governor released the following statement:
    "The Louisiana Department of Education needs to follow the procurement code. We are not at all comfortable that this new proposal is consistent with the law."
    As of press time, no new developments had taken place.

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