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Committee formed in wake of Common Core compromise

by Minden Press-Herald

The Louisiana Department of Education is forming a review committee in the wake of a compromise agreement between both sides of the Common Core State Standards issue.

State Rep. Gene Reynolds says this is part of the compromise package that will take place during the 2015-16 school year where a panel of educators and other experts will look at the CCSS and perform a comprehensive review of them.

“This is one piece of the compromise,” he said. “We have all these members and they’re going to take the CCSS and go through each and every one of them thoroughly. That group will report to BESE early next year. The results of that report will be reviewed by panels all over the state – open to the public.”

During this period, parents and the general public will be able to express their opinions on the new proposed standards. Reynolds says the proposed standards will be a blend of the CCSS and standards proposed by the review committee.

“After those changes are made, when we go into session next year, those proposed standards will come to the legislature,” he said, “and we can say yes we want these, or no we don’t want these.”

If the vote is an overwhelming “no,” Reynolds says a certain amount of time will be set aside to make the needed changes and get it ready to implement the following school year.

According to a news release by the DOE, 101 proposed members of four committees will review and develop learning expectations for students in English and mathematics. The proposed members include 58 school-based educators, 24 district leaders, five representatives from institutions of higher learning and 15 education and parental advocates.

“Two weeks ago, legislative leaders announced an agreement that would codify the process in law, requiring it to start July 2015 and be concluded by March 2016, at which time BESE will adopt the reviewed and developed standards,” DOE officials stated.

The four committees will be one standards committee that will serve as a steering committee and oversee the work of the three content committees.

Webster Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says this is a step in the right direction in allaying fears and frustrations by parents all over the state.

“It’s finally getting the two sides together, and it is a good thing,” he said. “Both sides are finally going to reach across the aisle and we’re going to sit down together and go through these GLE’s and decide what’s best for our kids. Somewhere in there, I think they will ultimately come up with a solution that will finally help kids.”

However, he says his faculty still has some fears about testing now that the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers, or PARCC, testing has been thrown out the window. Reynolds says a compromise test will take its place.

“The PARCC test is history, and everybody is in agreement with it,” he said. “Just for this year, we will authorize a company to come up with a test that only 49 percent of the questions can be national questions and the rest have to be Louisiana questions. That’s just for this year.”

In later years, if the standards need to change again, he says the state will go into contract with a company to design a test that meets those standards.

The fluidity of change is one of the better parts of the compromise package, Reynolds says.

“If the standards change again, this process can be used again to approve those standards,” he said. “It gives everybody the opportunity for input on any standards that we put in place going forward from now on.”

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