Education Superintendent John White said Louisiana will move forward with the Common Core test scheduled to take place March 16-20, in spite of reports that some students may “opt-out” of the assessment.
“We are not changing a decade’s worth of policy overnight based on hypothetical situations,” White said.
Fourteen school districts, including St. Tammany Parish, have asked to be held harmless if students skip the assessment, though it is unclear how widespread the “opt-out” movement is in Louisiana. Federal and state law requires Louisiana to implement an accountability system, which currently includes the Common Core test.
Louisiana and over 40 other states adopted the Common Core five years ago. The academic standards — which offer a baseline for what students should learn in math and English — have attracted a groundswell of objections from families and teachers across the country in recent months.
White said only a handful of Louisiana families have declared they won’t participate at this point, but groups representing teachers and school boards have warned of testing chaos because of Common Core opposition. Superintendents have complained of confusion, particularly since White and Gov. Bobby Jindal are at odds over whether the Common Core assessment should move forward.
Last month, the governor issued an executive order urging Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to offer an alternative to the Common Core test. So far, the state school board — as well as White — have refused.
Students who don’t take the test will score a zero for themselves, their schools and their school districts. Children could also be at risk for being labeled “truant” — depending on how local school districts decide to handle test absences.
Schools and school districts are particularly concerned that widespread absences from the test could skew their results, and cause them to receive a lower rating than they should.
White has said the state will take a close look at test participation rates when examining the data in June. The Department of Education will consider whether students were present to take the test when evaluating the testing data.