Louisiana State Board Members: Drop the PARCC Test, But Use PARCC Test Items

By Andrew Ujifusa — July 10, 2014 3 min read
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Three members of the Louisiana state school board have proposed that the state no longer use the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test for the 2014-15 school year. Instead, the state would administer its current assessment program, the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP), but use some PARCC questions to “complement” that exam, three board members proposed to Gov. Bobby Jindal in a July 10 letter.

For the 2015-16 school year, the state would develop a request for proposal for which the PARCC test wouldn’t and couldn’t be considered as an assessment, the state board members told Jindal.

The proposal from three top-ranking officers of the state board, who were not acting on behalf of the entire board, is the most recent chapter in the battle over the PARCC assessment in Louisiana. Last month, Jindal, a Republican, announced moves to block the state from using the consortia test aligned to the Common Core State Standards, on the grounds that the state planned to use the test in violation of its testing contract. State Superintendent John White and the Louisiana state board have said Jindal has improperly blocked the PARCC assessment, and at the start of the month they hired legal counsel to fight Jindal’s move.

In the letter, state board President Chas Roemer, as well as Vice President Jim Garvey and Secretary Holly Boffy, told Gov. Jindal that regarding the PARCC items, “Louisiana educators and administrators participated in creating these questions, and the state can thus access them without entering into a contract or a subcontract, thereby solving the urgent need for new test questions and meeting the legal mandate for tests based on ‘nationally recognized content standards.’ ”

However, board members didn’t specify the share of this proposed hybrid test that would consist of PARCC test questions in English/language arts and math.

On a press call, Roemer said that he thought the plan would satisfy the concerns of various officials, create a “uniquely Louisiana test,” and help the state move forward quickly in a new direction. He said he was optimistic that the board would be able to reach an agreement with Jindal on the basis of the plan: “We feel a need to move now and outline a clear path for our students.”

Here’s how White, who supports the plan in the letter, put it on Twitter:

It’s important to remember that PARCC hasn’t yet decided whether states can use PARCC test questions but not the whole test. Right now, no state has such an arrangement. But White said he has discussed the possibility with PARCC and said he was “very confident” that Louisiana would ultimately be able to use PARCC questions, but not the whole test: “We have a right to ownership of them.” (Louisiana remains a member of the PARCC consortium.)

White did stress, however, that using some PARCC testing items was not the same as the state being able to use the entire test, saying that such a hybrid LEAP/PARCC test would not be “as seamlessly comparable” to the PARCC test other states will use. Asked about Jindal’s general opposition to PARCC, Roemer responded that Jindal doesn’t have the constitutional authority to determine the content of the state’s assessment.

White and Jindal had scheduled a July 17 meeting to try to hash out an agreement with respect to PARCC, but Roemer said he didn’t want to wait that long to try to reach an agreement. The goal, Roemer noted, is to get the governor to lift the suspension he placed on the state’s testing contract that White and Roemer had planned to use to administer the PARCC test.

UPDATE: Despite the hopes of White and Roemer that Jindal would agree to the compromise, that doesn’t appear to be the case, according to the Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.