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Louisiana superintendents raise concerns with new accountability standards

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(The Center Square) — The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Superintendents’ Advisory Council voted to oppose new accountability standards at a meeting on Thursday.

David Claxton, president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, also requested a six-month extension to further scrutinize the standards.

“I want to be correct,” Claxton said. “There’s not one reason it has to be adopted next week.”

BESE will consider final adoption of the new standards at its regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. The new standards were approved by BESE’s Accountability Council on May 6.

Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said the accountability system was necessary for three reasons: To create higher expectations, to make the assessment process simpler and more transparent, and to promote career and college readiness.

Superintendents approved of the “simpler and transparent” portion of the new system. However, the disconnect between the proposal and what the superintendents sought was in the other two areas of improvement.

The new system would create three pathways for students: The university pathway, the military service pathway and the career pathway. All three would require different test scores of nationally recognized tests like the ACT, or in the case of the career accelerator, basic apprenticeship/internship experience.

Most superintendents endorsed this idea and agreed to phase in work-based learning over a period of several years. However, some opponents argued that their districts do not have the requisite internships available to their students.

Others attested that some students might be placed in the university pathway by their parents, when in reality they have no desire to go to college.

Higher expectations was the primary divider in the room. Although superintendents approved of wanting more out of their students, the grading systems made several superintendents feel their schools would listed as failing when in reality they were improving.

As they agreed to oppose the adoption of this new system, they also agreed that most of the issues lie in the technical language and logic of the proposal, not the goals and expectations.

During the hearing, the advisory council received a presentation on new standards on background checks and signed off on them. Effective Jan. 1, 2025, an educator is required to pass a criminal background check from state and federal bureaus to get educator credentials, not just to be hired/employed.

This means if someone applies for initial certification, or if LDOE doesn’t have a recent background check, they need a new background check to get one. This law also makes available the identity of someone denied, suspended, or revoked of their certificate to teach.

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