Dear Louisiana Citizens and Education Stakeholders,
As members of the State Board of Education (BESE, the “Board of Elementary and Secondary Education”), we have requested a special meeting of BESE to address the concerns of school districts being punished for students who choose to opt out of PARCC testing. Unfortunately, our request was denied by BESE President, Chas Roemer. (Six BESE members must agree to a special meeting.)
An item has been added to the March BESE agenda; however, we believe the concerns are too significant to delay until March. There are OPT-Out meetings currently being scheduled in communities across our state.
We have received numerous emails and phone calls from parents and educators seeking information regarding an opt- out of testing option. Many of the questions asked are valid; yet, school officials, including BESE members, don’t have responses. Education in Louisiana is in a state of confusion.
Parents have expressed their concerns and intentions to opt their children out of PARCC testing this spring. Schools MUST not be penalized for a variable they can’t control. There is a solution to this AND BESE can provide the solution. School districts and schools should not be assigned punitive consequences: zeros in 2014-2015 for students choosing not to participate in PARCC tests. There should be a suspension of letter grades due to the untimely guidance and changes to the assessment guides and the release of practice test items that were received as late as the end of January, 2015. The “build the plane as you fly it” sentiment continues with educators not truly knowing “the destination.” Because this is the first administration of the PARCC assessment in Louisiana, many school officials, educators, and parents have valid fears, particularly, when it is a known fact that there was a 70% failure rate in New York.
Why would we disenfranchise our parents, teachers and administrators by saying “No” to a special meeting? We urge you to join with us to encourage BESE to approve a special meeting. Why would a Board refuse to call a meeting to address these concerns?
If you haven’t contacted your BESE member, you should do so immediately.
Your voice will make the difference.
Lottie P. Beebe, Ed. D., District 3 BESE Member
Mary Harris, District 4 BESE Member
Carolyn Hill, District 8 BESE Member
Jane Smith, Member At Large—Caddo Parish