BATON ROUGE, La. – Amid reports from around the state of parents opting their children out of upcoming PARCC testing, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Friday afternoon to protect students, teachers, and schools from the consequences of those opt-outs.
The executive order, which reiterates the standing rights of parents to opt their children out of such tests, calls on the state’s board of education to offer alternatives to the controversial PARCC testing.
The Common Core-linked Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests are slated to begin in March.
As reported by The Advertiser, “opting out by parents has the potential to hurt schools, districts and teachers in the state’s accountability system. Under the current accountability system, schools receive a zero for each student who doesn’t take the test.”
“Accountability scores are used to determine district and school performance scores as well as figuring into teacher evaluations,” the news source continues. “That can translate into monetary awards for both teachers and schools.”
However, Jindal’s executive order calls on BESE to, “as a viable and necessary action,” “grant districts the ability to offer nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessment appropriate for Louisiana as an alternative to the PARCC test, including abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, rather than penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.”
The order continues:
WHEREAS, nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessments utilized by other states, and compliant with La. R.S. 17:24.4, are readily available in the marketplace and offer complete and abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, either of which can easily be administered as alternatives to the PARCC test;
WHEREAS, it is inherent upon BESE, pursuant to the clear statutory findings of law provided by the legislature, to avert the growing disruption to this year’s assessments by offering alternative means of testing readily available in the marketplace and currently utilized by other states, in order to avoid the negative impacts to student achievement, the teacher evaluation system, and the school and district accountability system.
KATC reports in Louisiana’s Lafayette Parish, kindergarten teacher Erin May is currently the only parent to opt her children out of the testing, but “numerous other parents have voiced concerns over the testing, which is linked to the Common Core curriculum.”
Those concerns have prompted Lafayette area parents to organize a meeting to take place Tuesday night so that “parents, school board members and other education stakeholders can discuss the issue.”
According to KNOE Channel 8, several parents in Ouachita Parish alone have already called their school principals to inform them that their children will not be taking the exam.
The news site also states that when they asked parents on Facebook if they would opt their children out of PARCC tests, “an overwhelming majority… said yes.”
Last summer, Jindal changed course on Common Core and PARCC, boldly announcing that what “began as an effort to simply raise standards for students… has morphed into a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.”
Jindal added, “Congress drew a bright red line that can’t be crossed and it clearly bars the federal government from ‘directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum programs of instructional material.'”
“Implementing PARCC in Louisiana crosses the line because what’s tested is what’s taught,” said the governor.
Jindal attempted to suspend PARCC testing in June of last year by way of executive order, asserting that PARCC did not allow a competitive bidding process, as required by Louisiana state law.
In response, the state’s BESE board joined in a lawsuit against Jindal that was filed by Black Alliance for Education Options. As a result, district Judge Todd Hernandez blocked Jindal’s executive order.
A recent Washington Examiner report says that Common Core will be the defining issue for GOP presidential contenders this year.
The Examiner’s Hugh Hewitt says he interviewed Jindal and several other potential candidates recently and reports that both Rick Perry and Marco Rubio also reject Common Core while Jeb Bush remains supportive of the initiative.
Specifically, Hewitt writes:
Bush is quick to defend the original theory and its necessity… vigorously rejecting the idea that Common Core meant in practice a national one-size-fits-all curriculum.
“Standards are different from curriculum,” he told me, “and that’s where I think the biggest misnomer [occurs and] where people legitimately get concerned.”
“I would be concerned if we had a national curriculum influenced by the federal government,” Bush added. “My God, I’d break out in a rash.”
In 2013, then Governor Rick Perry signed legislation effectively banning the Common Core State Standards from the state of Texas.