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Louisiana Chief White Proposes Somewhat Familiar Common-Core Compromise

Louisiana Superintendent John White has proposed two education policy changes related to the Common Core State Standards, one to do with the standards themselves and one with testing. They could form the basis of a compromise between state K-12 officials and Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who has attacked the standards and aligned tests in the courts and in public speeches since last summer. 

Danielle Dreilinger of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Feb. 23 that White wants to fast-track a scheduled state board review of the common core. Louisiana content standards are typically reviewed by the state school board every seven years, and the board is slated to start reviewing them in 2016.

The superintendent wants that review to start in 2015 instead. White said "we're not afraid" to take another look at the standards, make a few changes, and change the name if it makes people more comfortable. A majority of the state board still supports the common core. 

As for testing, White said that since the state's testing contract expires after the administration of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exam this spring, he's willing to make a request that next year's assessments in English/language arts and math contain test questions from non-PARCC sources as well as PARCC. White won't budge from insisting on at least some PARCC items being included in those tests; he says the business community demands it, and that keeping PARCC questions will maintain consistency for teachers.

In fact, this PARCC compromise sounds similar to what White and state board President Chas Roemer proposed last summer when, in an effort to placate Jindal, they raised the idea of mixing items from PARCC with questions from the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, the state's previous assessments in E/LA and math. (Jindal quickly rejected this idea.)

In addition, White said he wants to review assessments in the state to see where overtesting may be taking place. 

On Feb. 21, a bipartisan group of Louisiana state lawmakers published an op-ed in the News-Star in which they proposed several of the same policy changes that White just did. As Dreilinger notes, three of the four candidates for Louisiana governor this year have expressed opposition to the common core, so White may be feeling the political winds shift. Jindal's chief of staff Kyle Plotkin told Dreilinger that the Feb. 21 op-ed shows that standards supporters are rightly reconsidering the common core. 

Also check out my colleague Catherine Gewertz's blog item from Feb. 20, in which she writes that New York state seems to be distancing itself from PARCC—the state has been giving a different common-core test since 2013, even though its a member of the PARCC consortium. 

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