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Louisiana student standardized testing to restart in spring

4 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, March 09 2021 Mar 9, 2021 March 09, 2021 5:13 AM March 09, 2021 in News
Source: Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana public school students will resume their traditional standardized tests in math, science, English and social studies in the spring, a year after those exams were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state hasn’t settled, however, whether those LEAP 2025 test results will be used to assign letter grades to schools and districts and determine school performance scores. The Advocate reports the testing may be the subject of new legislative debates when the regular session begins in mid-April.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will discuss the test plans Tuesday, though it’s not clear members will reach conclusions on how the results will be used.

Senate Education Chairman Cleo Fields said the exam results should be purely advisory.

“At the end of the day, no kid should be penalized this year,” said Fields, a Baton Rouge Democrat. “We have to know where we are. But it should not be used against anybody.”

The U.S. Department of Education, in a Feb. 22 letter, invited state education leaders to seek a wide range of waivers that would allow states to put off key parts of their spring testing routines. But state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said the state has not sought any waivers.

“We think it is really important that students test because we haven’t tested in two years,” Brumley said. “We need to know where our kids are, and that is important because it will drive instructional decisions and will also drive resource allocation decisions.”

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the top policymaking board for public schools, said the student assessments will help determine where learning gaps have been created or widened during the pandemic.

“Families, schools and educators deserve to know where each student is in his or her academic trajectory,” board President Sandy Holloway and members Kira Orange Jones and Ashley Ellis said in a statement.

The tests usually are given statewide in late March and early April. This year, schools will have multiple options in April and May, with the first set for April 15 for high school students.

A 2020 state law that bans the use of tests results to help evaluate teachers also prohibits officials from using scores to determine whether fourth and eighth graders move to the next grades. A second measure from the same session gives the state education board the authority to make allowances on school and district scores “as the board deems necessary and appropriate.” The law also directs the board to seek a federal waiver to shelve letter grades this year if issuing the marks would be “detrimental” to the state, according to The Advocate.

A year ago, Gov. John Bel Edwards shelved the standardized tests because of the coronavirus outbreak. The cancellations also applied to end-of-course exams, school and district accountability and teacher evaluations as classrooms closed nine weeks ahead of schedule and forced a sudden lurch to distance learning.

During the school year, about 70% of public school students now are attending in-person classes. The rest are learning through virtual instruction or a combination of virtual and in-person classes.

The turmoil has sparked concerns about learning loss that could cripple students for years, especially for those living in rural areas that lack internet access.

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