BATON ROUGE – The group of House members who negotiated the agreement on developing new standards in the 2015 legislative session, (Geymann, Schroder, Pope, Harris, Henry, Havard and Hensgens), have declared that the spirit of the compromise has not been kept by BESE or the Department of Education. While negotiating the agreement, Superintendent John White made the point that the review committee should have access to anything they need to make their decisions. The legislators who have concerns with the existing standards worked in good faith on this agreement with other legislators and stakeholders. The intent was to identify the areas of concern and make appropriate adjustments to improve the standards and remove the controversy while making them Louisiana’s own. This week the BESE members voted 7 – 4 not to give the standards review committee the data necessary to judge the validity and appropriateness of the existing standards.

Without the appropriate data, the review committee cannot perform their job and have no way of judging the validity of the standards. It is now the opinion of these House members that the majority of the current BESE board and department of education are not willing to allow this panel to achieve the intent of the legislative agreement to remove Louisiana from the existing standards and develop the state’s own high standards that have been improved by making adjustments in the areas of concern.

There is no reason to participate with a committee whose outcome has been predetermined by the lack of data and resources from the Department of Education. The House members also call for the four major candidates for governor to bring forth in their legislative package, legislation that will remove our state from the existing standards and create strong and appropriate Louisiana standards.

Listed below are additional concerns from some of the panel members…

Concerns

Standards Review Process 

Public Comments Compiled and Distributed at Wed. Aug 19th Meeting were Incomplete

  • At the Wed. Aug 19th meeting, once in the Math Subcommittee meeting in the afternoon, we realized that the public review portal comments given to all committee members were not complete. A member of the math subcommittee told the group that comments made by teacher-friends that she had personally seen were not included.
  • On Fri. Aug 21st, we received an email (attached #1) that confirmed that comments were missing and that the grade level reports had since been updated to include all comments. Would this have occurred if this committee member had not brought it to the attention of the group?

Public Comments Compiled and Distributed at Wed. Aug 19th Meeting were

Not Useable

  • At the Wed. Aug 19th meeting, once in the Math Subcommittee meeting in the afternoon, the high school math group noticed that the organization of the public review portal comments wasn’t clear and that there was no way to discern which comments went with which standards. We brought this to the attention of our subcommittee chair. This issue was not corrected until Sun. Sept 20th (only FIVE days before our individual reports were due on Fri. Sept 25th)…..(email #2 attached to verify this).
  • I only have verification on what was sent to the Math Subcommittee. I have NO IDEA if the ELA Subcommittee received comments that were complete and/or useable.

Evidence of Small Groups Working Together on the Public Portal to Just Click Yes for Approval of Standards

  • Look at time and date stamps on the screen shots from High School Geometry on August 5th.
  • Between 8-10 reviewers approved every standard (with only one reviewer changing one word in one standard) for High School Geometry in ONLY 18 MINUTES (time stamped from 14:14 to 14:32).
  • With the total number of reviewers for all High School Geometry standards ranging from 17-21 on any given standard, these clumped reviews represent a significant portion (approximately half) of all the reviews for each standard and certainly increase the statistic that gives the Percent Feedback that Recommends Standard Remain Unchanged.
  • This statistic is the main one listed on the summary page for the public review portal comments for each grade level and content area.

No Access to Questions and Results Related to each Standards Tested on PARCC-like Exam

  • In the public comments session at the Wed. Aug 19th meeting, someone asked for the committee members to be provided with the test questions written for each standard and the test results for each of the questions.
  • On Tues. Sept 1st, all committees were told in an email (attached #3) that we would not be getting this information. The email includes the official response from John White.
  • Please read over this response. I had heard that the state had the PARCC test results in July. If this is the case, the response includes a complete lie.
  • Work overtime. Work 24/7. No reason not to provide this information to the committee. Completely unacceptable.

Process Dictated by BESE and Not Subject to Change

  • At the Wed. Aug 19th meeting, a suggestion was made to put together a group of university professors in an advisory role for subcommittee members to use while working on their reviews/drafts. This proposal was shot down, with the argument that the process approved by BESE must not be changed by the Standards Review Committees…..even if the committees feel that a change would improve the process.

Standards Review Drafts Limited by Structure of Common Core

  • As we reviewed the standards, there was no way to change the structure of the standards or the broad categories covered in each subject area.
  • We are still working within the framework of the Common Core State Standards….with no ability to change that…..and honestly, not enough time to do it.

A Fair Process is Impossible under Given Time Limits and Limiting Structure of the Process

  • At the Wed. Aug 19th meeting, the Math Subcommittee was divided up into an elementary group, a middle school group, and a high school group. Each of these groups was then divided up into grade levels for K-8 and subject levels for high school. For example, only THREE subcommittee members were to review the High School Geometry Standards. Subcommittee members were given approximately twenty minutes to talk with one another at the first meeting, were told to submit our individual drafts by Fri. Sept 25th, and will be given ONLY TWO HOURS to reach an agreement on Thurs. Oct 15th (email attached #4)!!!!
  • We did not receive a copy of everyone’s drafts until Wed. Oct 7th (email #4 confirms this)….which only gives us EIGHT DAYS to review it all before our meeting on Thurs. Oct 15th…in which we are supposed to reach ONE SET OF AGREED UPON standards for grades K-12 (email #4).

 

  • When looking at the High School Geometry drafts submitted by the three members assigned to work on them, the following was noticed:

Draft #1:         Only 3 of 37 standards were recommended for changes.

Draft #2:         Changes were recommended for 21 of 37 standards with a proposal to add 5 new standards.

Draft #3:         Only 7 of 37 standards were recommended for changes.

  • How on earth are those three committee members supposed to agree on a singular proposal in just TWO HOURS of time on Thursday? This will be the case for every grade level K-8 and every high school subject.
  • We were told to arrange a phone call if we felt we needed more time (email #4). A phone call ?? How about bringing the entire committee together for at least a full week to hash it out?
  • Understand that the final proposal will be voted on in all-or-nothing fashion. I am already prepared to request that my name be listed in dissent of this action or to resign from the committee if a final draft is still expected and required on Oct 15th.
  • The only result that could possibly come out of this process is a rebranding of CCSS or one with slight changes to CCSS….no way anything else is possible without a delay and much more time provided for the committee to get together.
  • This is not a process I would have agreed to participate in had I known the restrictions in time, test data, and structure that would be placed upon us by BESE.

 

###