LAE calls for collaboration on state education standards and aligned tests

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The following statement was released from the Leaders Association of Educators:

Disagreement Between BESE and Governor Jindal Places Louisiana Educators, Students, Parents, and Communities in the Middle of Political Agenda :

BATON ROUGE, LA – June 18, 2014 – LAE leaders respond to Governor Jindal's issuance of an executive order to take Louisiana out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment, also known as the PARCC test. LAE President Debbie Meaux said members of her organization have concerns with the ensuing political implications surrounding the move.

"Governor Jindal and members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are at odds when it comes to this very important issue; this places Louisiana educators, students, parents, and communities in the middle of a political agenda," said Meaux. "It worries us that Governor Jindal waited so long to make a decision that puts school districts and teachers in a bind when it comes to making sure everything is ready for the first day of school. The focus should be on what's best for Louisiana's school children."

Meaux said the members of the LAE hope the state takes this opportunity to properly examine all public school standards and aligned tests but worries about the rush to find/develop a state test to replace the PARCC assessment prior to the beginning of the 2014-2015 School Year.

"It is important that the LaDOE ensures that our teachers are ready to implement the proper, test-aligned curricula when school starts so that Louisiana's children don't fall behind on educational progress," Meaux said.

She went on to express additional concerns surrounding how this move will affect student testing, school accountability measures, and most importantly, teacher evaluations (if the consequences of the value-added model are reinstated in the 2015-16 School Year).

In his remarks, Governor Jindal sided with LAE's position in acknowledging that rigorous standards stand to serve as a road map to greater educational achievement. He also agreed with LAE's long-held stance that Louisiana must engage professional school staff as active partners in the development of standard-aligned curricula and tests. Meaux emphasized the importance of identifying the responsibilities of all public education stakeholders in the vetting and/or creation of public education standards, as well as in the implementation of aligned curricula and tests. Other considerations offered by the LAE included: stair-stepping the implementation of the standards one grade level at a time and using multiple, age-appropriate, universally designed student assessment tools which utilize relevant and reliable sources of data for teacher evaluations. The group also suggested regular reassessments of aligned-curricula, in addition to regular professional development opportunities for Louisiana teachers, created by Louisiana teachers. Meaux said one positive takeaway from Governor Jindal's directive was his acknowledgment that the state now has a chance to get this right.

"We can only hope that all stakeholders - students, educators, parents, community members, policymakers, social agencies, and taxpayers - are involved in the next step of the process," Meaux said. "Since teachers are on the front line of providing educational services to children, their needs and interests must be addressed."

Meaux said she anticipates that the broad range of cooperation in developing Louisiana educator-developed standards and tests will provide districts with more manageable curriculum goals and greater opportunities to use professional judgment in ways that best promote student success.