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Louisiana bill would codify ban on alternate graduation path for seniors

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(The Center Square) – Completion of a project or portfolio rather than passage of state standardized tests in order graduate from high school has been banned in Louisiana, and a legislative proposal would codify it into law.

Gov. Jeff Landry’s ban is additionally supported by the sponsored bill from Rep. Michael Melerine, R-Shreveport, in the state House of Representatives. The Committee on Education has it under consideration.

House Bill 10 would prevent the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing an appeals process, or gateway to a diploma, for students who repeatedly fail state standardized tests and choose to complete a project or portfolio to earn a diploma.

By law and state policy, high school seniors are required to pass the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program. It tests students in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

The board approved the alternate graduation rule in October. Lawmakers soundly rejected it. The board then went to an emergency rulemaking process, which Landry reversed shortly after his January inauguration.

Republicans were opposed to the change. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy took to social media in October to say, “The adults behind Louisiana’s new graduation requirement plan aren’t putting kids first. Every kid in Louisiana can learn.

“Sometimes they need a little bit longer, but it’s not going to do the next generation any good to give them a diploma that they can’t even read.”

Democrats said at the time that Louisiana was one of only eight states without an appeals process and that it would boost graduation rates.

The 11-member board has eight new Republican-supported members. The policy is not expected to return soon.

As previously reported by The Center Square, graduates under this alternate process would be counted toward their school’s accountability rating score. Only more than a third of Louisiana public high school students perform on grade level, yet 70% of schools are rated A or B.

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