House OKs bill allowing students with disabilities to avoid standardized tests

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, speaks Wednesday on behalf of his bill that would allow public high school students who are not pursuing diplomas to avoid taking the ACT and other standardized tests. The House passed the measure 99-0 and sent it to the Senate.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, speaks Wednesday on behalf of his bill that would allow public high school students who are not pursuing diplomas to avoid taking the ACT and other standardized tests. The House passed the measure 99-0 and sent it to the Senate.

The Louisiana House on Wednesday voted 99-0 to allow public high school students with disabilities to be exempted from taking the ACT and other standardized tests.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite and sponsor of the plan, said the exclusion would apply to students who are not pursuing a high school diploma and who have an exceptionality listed in state law. “That means they have a diagnosed disability,” Edwards said.

The proposal does not cover gifted and talented students.

The legislation, which next faces action in the state Senate, is the latest move aimed at revamping rules of the state Department of Education.

The House on Monday approved legislation that would block plans for ACT results — an examine of college readiness — to count for 25 percent of the annual, state-issued grade starting this fall.

That measure, House Bill 466, also faces action in the Senate.

The Edwards bill would also prohibit students or schools from being penalized for not taking the ACT or other tests.

The sole exclusions would be students whose individual education plan calls for them to take the tests or if their parents or guardians request in writing that they take them.

“This is an opt in,” Edwards said.

Students who do not pursue a high school diploma typically earn a certificate of attendance.

Exactly how many students would be affected is unclear.

State officials said earlier this month that students who pursue a high school diploma amount to about 2 percent of a category of those who qualify for modest assistance on standardized tests.