Let's Hold Our Schools Accountable for Success - Not Failure!

An Open Letter to BESE, the Legislature and the Press:

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)  has abdicated its legal responsibility under the law to issue clear guidance and information to school districts regarding numerous issues, but most recently the parental right to opt out of the state assessment.  BESE has not simply NEGLECTED to do this but has REFUSED as evidenced by their discussion and action at the March 5 public meeting.  

Someone must stand up and take action against the decision of BESE to break the law.  Parents should not have to be responsible for filing lawsuits to accomplish this. Too many schools and district administrators are telling parents who refuse the state test, inaccurately called the PARCC, that they must keep their children home during testing. This a clear violation of state truancy laws. Too many schools are telling parents that if their child shows up at school their child will be tested against their wishes. Too many schools are telling parents they cannot exercise their parental rights to refuse the test.  Too many students are being bullied by administrators and teachers against the LDE bullying policy and state law.  

The disruption and chaos perpetrated by John White and BESE can only be determined to be purposeful and designed to undermine the stability of our public school system in order to replace it with a corporate style privatized governance model that removes democratically elected school boards and community control of our schools from the citizens of this state.  

Parents value their public schools, not only for their own children but for the welfare of all children including those who are being and have historically been underserved. That is evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of parental refusals and voices statewide to save our schools have come from white, middle class, professionals whose children are high performing.  The media and a number of special interests and non-profits engaged in the privatization effort have tried to influence the public's thinking that this is a "politically motivated" or ideologically based effort to undermine the education of minorities, poor, English language learners and even special needs.  The fact that many of the most outspoken parents are dedicated to upholding the principles of the Constitutions of this nation and this state is evidence of the power and importance that those documents hold for the future health of our nation and its economy.  Although these parents have other choices by virtue of their financial abilities, and all are in high performing schools, they are fighting to save our public school system, not to destroy it.  

While it is our hope that our elected legislative officials will understand their role in preserving our constitutional responsibility to provide a public school system for every child, we recognize that ultimately every citizen has the responsibility, the authority 
and the power to accomplish this goal through their individual actions and their participation in elections.  That responsibility along with the welfare of their children is why parents have chosen to refuse the state assessment deceptively referred to as PARCC.  

It is time for this state to be released from the limitations of a system of standardization that has been sold has equity so that our public school system can move forward with truly innovative and forward thinking curriculum and pedagogy based on standards that guide us forward, not restrain us.  Conformity does not promulgate but suppresses innovation and creative thinking. It is time to end the punitive accountability system that uses a single high stakes tests to identify failure and replace it with a constructive system of accountability that identifies success, shares it, and builds on it - for all schools and all children. 

      RS 17:10.1      

§10.1.  School and district accountability system; purpose; responsibilities of state board
A.  It is the purpose of this Section to:
(1)  Provide for the development and implementation of a school and district accountability system which requires and supports student achievement in each public school.
(2)  Provide assurance to the citizens that the quality of education in each public school is monitored and maintained at levels essential for each student to receive a minimum foundation of education.
(3)  Provide clear standards and expectations for schools and school systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood.
(4)  Provide information that will assist schools and school systems in order that energies and resources may be focused on student academic achievement.
B.  The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, hereafter referred to as the "state board", shall provide for a statewide system of accountability for schools and school districts based on student achievement and minimum standards for the approval of schools pursuant to R.S. 17:10.  Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, such system shall be based, in part, on growth in student achievement using a value-added assessment model as determined by the state board.  The program shall include, at a minimum, clear and appropriate standards for schools and school districts, indicators for the assessment of schools and school districts, student achievement baselines, student growth targets, and appropriate minimum levels of student achievement for each public school and school district, rewards and corrective actions, specific intervals for assessment and reassessment of schools and school districts, a review process for evaluating growth targets, and technical assistance.
C.  The state board shall develop and adopt a policy to invalidate student achievement growth data using a value-added assessment model for any school year in which there is a natural disaster or any other unexpected event that results in the temporary closure of schools.
D.(1)  The state board shall, by rule, define "financially at risk" as a status of any city, parish, or other local public school board the unresolved finding of which subjects the school system and its board to the provisions of Chapter 9B of Title 39 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950 regarding the judicial appointment of a fiscal administrator.
(2)  Each city, parish, or other local public school board shall be notified on a regular basis by the state Department of Education of its status related to the elements of the definition of financially at risk.
E.  The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall not use any performance data or indicator, including student academic achievement, test scores, attendance rates, dropout rates, or completion rates, related to students enrolled in an alternative school or educational program operated within a juvenile residential center, juvenile detention center, or any facility under the jurisdiction of the office of juvenile justice in the calculation of any school or district performance score or measure for the city, parish, or other local public school system within the boundaries of which such facility is located.
F.  In addition to any other performance-related labels or designations assigned to public schools and school districts pursuant to the school and district accountability system, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with parents,  teachers, school administrators, and other education stakeholders, shall develop a letter grade system reflective of school and district performance that shall include but not necessarily be limited to the following:
(1)(a)  Assignment of a letter grade to each public elementary and secondary school and school district that is based upon the current method of determining school and district performance scores.
(b)  Any school that has been labeled academically unacceptable shall be assigned a grade of "F".
(2)  Inclusion of the letter grade assigned to each public school and school district in the school report cards compiled by the Department of Education and distributed to parents and in any public release of school and district performance scores.
(3)  Creation of an honor roll which recognizes all high-performing schools and high schools with graduation rates that exceed the state average, which shall also be made public when information relative to school and district performance scores and letter grades are released.
Acts 1997, No. 478, §1, eff. June 30, 1997; Acts 2001, No. 1137, §1; Acts 2005, No. 7, §1, eff. May 27, 2005; Acts 2010, No. 54, §1, eff. May 27, 2010; Acts 2010, No. 122, §1; Acts 2010, No. 718, §1.

1 comment:

  1. Keep fighting! Hooray for #FamilyLeadershipInEducation
    Don't let them get you down. Defend your children and their right to an excellent and equitable public education. ALL OF THEM.


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