Jindal urges BESE to allow "opt-out" for PARCC test
BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Friday declaring parents should be able to opt their children out of taking the assessment test tied to the Common Core educational standards, which have created a deep political divide in Louisiana public education.
The governor's order directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to let parents "act on their beliefs for the best interests of their children" and urges BESE to authorize alternative assessments besides the PARCC test.
The order comes after reports from school districts in different parts of the state that some parents did not want their children taking Common Core-associated tests. Teachers noted there are no policies which require students to take the assessment, and students would not be held back if they did not take the exam. School performance scores, however, are tied to the students' performance, and failing to take the test could negatively impact districts.
Four BESE board members also recently called on President Chas Roemer to hold a special meeting to deal with the issue of students not taking the exam. They're scheduled to hold a regular meeting in March.
Roemer noted in a conference call after the governor issued his order that they were not constitutionally bound to follow the governor's directives. Roemer urged parents to have their children take the test, calling it well thought-out and a good use of taxpayer dollars. He called Jindal's order part of a "pattern of behavior" designed to create "chaos" ahead of the legislative session. He also said it is up to individual school districts to decide whether students who did not take the test advanced to the next grade or not, not the state.
Governor Jindal initially supported Common Core's stricter educational standards before joining national conservative opposition to them last summer. Roemer and state education Superintendent John White both opposed Jindal's attempts to get the state out of its Common Core agreement, and multiple lawsuits over the matter are still working their way through state courts.
In 2012, the governor's office also voiced opposition to a bill from Rep. Pat Smith which would have allowed students to opt out of some LEAP tests, similar to what Jindal proposed in his executive order. The governor's office said at that point that doing so "waters down the accountability system," and affected the state's ability to assess teacher effectiveness.
The Common Core standards were developed by a group of representatives from numerous states in order to create a common set of standards different states could use to compare how their students were performing with each other. Opponents say the five-year implementation of Common Core in Louisiana has not gone far enough to prepare students and teachers, and some national pundits incorrectly called them a federal takeover of state education.
You can read the governor's full executive order by clicking here.