For the last several months, a special committee appointed by BESE has been reviewing Louisiana’s academic standards. You remember them. Those standards that were supposed to be so controversial and the ones that we’ve been using successfully in our schools for the last two to three years.
The review panel was made up of sub-committees that included about 100 Louisiana educators recognized for their expertise in English and math at various grade levels from kindergarten through high school. They were joined by additional experts from the state’s universities.
Working diligently and going through every single standard, they recently made their final recommendations. In all they suggested adjustments to 18-percent of the English standards and 26-percent of the math standards – changes to 21-percent of the standards, in all.
CABL, of course, has been a strong supporter of our current high academic standards. We believe that our standards should ensure that our students are ready for college and careers and should be comparable to high standards anywhere else in the country. We totally oppose any effort to go backwards or diminish their rigor.
While we are still in the process of reviewing the recommended changes, we don’t believe they set us back. It appears that the vast majority of the changes are well thought out and being suggested for sincere educational reasons. For instance:
- In many cases the committees changed wording to provide additional clarity and better describe exactly what the standard is.
- Language that suggested what approaches educators might use to teach a standard or specific examples of texts or readings were usually removed.
- Some standards were moved up or down a grade level as deemed appropriate to provide a smoother progression for students from one grade to the next.
- New standards were developed for the earliest grades to help students learn how to count with money.
The question for CABL is not how many adjustments may or may not have been made to the standards. That’s incidental. What matters is, are they high-quality, do they maintain their current rigor, are they nationally competitive and do they prepare our students to go to college or get the training they need to have a good career?
From our initial review it appears that they do all of these things. We will continue to analyze the recommendations and seek input from experts, but as we move forward it’s important that citizens keep their eye on the things that matter.
Rest assured this entire issue will become politicized yet again. And, yes, some in the education establishment are already stirring the pot in ways that really do a disservice to teachers and parents. It’s unfortunate they would choose to do that, but they no doubt have their motivations.
That said, we have been through these standards wars for too long now. Students, teachers and parents are all adapting to the improvements we made in our standards and testing, just as we always knew they would. Indeed a recent headline in the Advocate newspaper was telling: “One Year after First Common Core Exams, this Year’s Tests Sparking Little Heat.”
Politics being politics we know some are coming to try to rekindle that heat, often for reasons that have more to do with other agendas than the standards. Perhaps it’s just to be expected. But really, after all we’ve been though on this, isn’t it just time to move along?