By Victor Skinner
BATON ROUGE, La. – Several Democratic lawmakers in the Louisiana state House teamed with the state’s teachers union to push legislation that would allow students to opt out of state tests, a move that was quickly shut down as an obvious attempt to avoid accountability.
State Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, “couched her plan as one of parental choice” when she introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow students to opt out of state tests with their parents’ permission, according to the Advocate.com.
Erin Bendily, assistant deputy superintendent for the state Department of Education, told lawmakers the aim of the bill was “allowing schools to avoid accountability.” We think another goal was to allow union teachers to avoid accountability, because they look bad then their students test badly.
While the Louisiana Federation of Teachers urged legislators to approve the bill, education expert Stephanie Desselle of Council for a Better Louisiana said the state only began testing students just over a decade ago, and the dismal results were shocking. Because the state does not test to national standards, state tests are critical to measuring student learning, she said.
Desselle also pointed to a U.S. Department of Education requirement that 95 percent of students participate in testing, and said that allowing parents to opt their children out of the tests “would put a lot of districts in a very bad situation.”
State House Education Committee members wisely rejected Smith’s proposal by a 12-to-3 vote.