Louisiana’s top school board faces one of its most controversial agendas in months on Tuesday, including renewed arguments on the merits of more rigor in public school classrooms.
The state’s new teacher evaluation system, why education leaders opted not to seek up to $45 million in federal pre-kindergarten aid and high school graduation rates are also on the agenda for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The new school standards, which are called Common Core, are set for discussion, and public comment during a BESE committee hearing tentatively set for 2:30 p.m.
That issue, and several other controversial topics, were added to the agenda by Lottie Beebe, of Breaux Bridge, who has been critical of the overhaul.
BESE approved Common Core in 2010, and there is no indication that it will backtrack on that stance on Tuesday.
The issue suddenly has turned controversial in Louisiana, and officials of groups for and against the changes are expected to testify.
Beebe also added three items related to the state’s new method for evaluating public school teachers on a BESE committee lineup set to start at 1 p.m.
She wants to set up a committee of statisticians and mathematicians to review the reliability of parts of the evaluation related to the yearly growth of student achievement.
Beebe also wants training for educators on how those computations work, and a discussion on whether state Superintendent of Education John White has the authority to waive results.
Earlier this year White said he was delaying final action on a small number of evaluations where students were performing at high levels but teachers were rated as ineffective.
In another area, BESE is expected to discuss White’s decision not to seek up to $45 million in federal “Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge” funds.
White said that aid “poses a greater risk than opportunity” for the state, could renew concerns about federal “overreach” in Louisiana schools and that only three to eight states will get dollars of 35 eligible states.
BESE is also set to discuss Louisiana’s public high school graduation rate, which was 72 percent for 2012.
That was up one percentage point from 2011, when the state ranked 47th.
Under a 2009 state law, the rate is supposed to reach 80 percent by 2014.
State educators have always said that is an ambitious target.
The full board meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday.