Aguillard clarifies Common Core stance

St. Mary Parish Superintendent of Schools Donald Aguillard

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jmccorkle@daily-review.com

While it has been widely reported that the St. Mary School System is one of 14 approving resolutions to opt out of Common Core testing, officials say that is not the case.
Superintendent Donald Aguillard confirmed this morning that the resolution the School Board passed at its January meeting requests the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education amend the state’s accountability guidelines to remove sanctions that would result from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing performance of students.
“A recent AP story incorrectly reported that the St. Mary Parish School Board adopted a resolution addressing penalty waivers for opt-outs. The resolution (instead) sought no accountability sanctions for students, teachers, schools and school districts that would result from PARCC testing performance in the 2014-15 school year,” Aguillard said in a statement this morning.
The Associated Press reported that the Louisiana School Boards Association said 14 Louisiana public school districts passed resolutions aimed at preventing schools from being penalized for students who skip Common Core standardized tests.
Common Core represents new standards in reading, writing and math that are being fully implemented this year. Students and parents who object to Common Core exams set for March 16-20 have started what is called an “opt out” movement.
Officials with the state Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education say that students who skip the test will produce zeroes for themselves, their schools and school districts.
How many students plan to skip the tests statewide is unclear, but Aguillard said that there have been no written waivers submitted in St. Mary Parish.
Aguillard repeatedly has indicated that St. Mary is not considering opting out of testing and individuals doing so would be detrimental to the schools’ and district’s scores.
“If even 5 percent of students don’t take it and receive a zero, that has consequences for the school and for the district,” Aguillard said earlier this month, indicating the scores of the schools and district would be hurt with that many children receiving zeroes in this parish.
School Board President Ginger Griffin of Patterson agreed.
“As members of an elected, educationally-focused body, we intend to support a call for a special BESE session to address the impact to schools and districts regarding PARCC test results. Even though student promotion will not be impacted by the test results, it’s important that our teachers and principals have the data they need to aid in student growth in the future. The board urges parents to allow students to participate in PARCC testing to assist in making the instructional decisions of our educators for next school year,” Griffin said in a statement this morning.
The resolution the board passed in January cited misinformation by the state, delayed releases of materials and continuous recalculation of expectations as reasons to request a moratorium on sanctions.

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