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Louisiana's Board of Education supports shift to Common Core State Standards


As American educators and administrators continue to debate the merits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), some states are moving forward with implementation. According to The Town Talk, Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has arrived at the conclusion, with overwhelming support, that it is in the best interest of its students that schools adopt the Standards.

The CCSS are a comprehensive list of academic benchmarks that students are expected to work toward and achieve. Third grade students, for example, should be able to interpret words and phrases in a given text and demonstrate a command of English grammar and syntax. Fifth graders should be able to identify the meaning of unknown words through context clues or an understanding of grade-appropriate Greek and Latin prefixes.

Louisiana's accountability system
The transition to the CCSS in Louisiana will be gradual. John White, the state's superintendent of education, and a BESE committee voted that public school letter grades, instructor evaluations and student promotion will not be affected by the integration of CCSS. For the next two years, Louisiana's accountability system will remain unchanged and students' performances will continue to be based on standardized testing and other assessments throughout the school year.

School grades and student performances are what determines whether a state will take over student education or if learners are eligible for vouchers that would allow them to transfer to a private school. In some cases, student performances on standardized tests are also a part of teacher evaluations.

Reasons for delay of consequences
White's reasoning behind delaying consequences for state schools is to give teachers and students ample time to adjust to the change. The superintendent said he wants to make sure that teachers will not be humiliated or students punished because of this transition to raised academic expectations. White spoke to the board suggesting they also delay to preserve the good name of Louisiana schools.

The gravity of the consequences of not meeting the Standards has raised concern among parents, students and educators. Jane Smith, a new BESE member appointed to the board by Gov. Bobby Jindal, supports White's decision whole-heartedly.

"There's nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying we want to get this right," she told The Town Talk.