Teacher union says schools ill-prepared for Common Core tests

Most teachers who responded to a survey by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers say their schools lack the computers and other equipment needed for students to take the Common Core tests, the group said Thursday.

Teachers also reported that their students lack the computer skills needed to succeed on the exams, the group said.

“The Department of Education told us that schools are ready to implement the computerized version of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,” Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said in a prepared statement.

“Teachers are telling us a very different story,” Monaghan said.

State education officials disputed the criticism, and they noted that districts can use paper tests when the exams are given in spring 2015.

Common Core is a series of new academic standards in reading, writing and math. PARCC is the consortium developing the tests.

The LFT is a teacher’s union that backed legislation earlier this year to replace Common Core with new standards developed strictly by state residents.

LFT spokesman Les Landon said 1,011 teachers responded to an online survey in April and May. He said teachers were not required to identify their districts but enough did to establish a statewide response.

The group has about 20,000 members, mostly teachers.

Of the teachers who responded, 87 percent believe their schools lack the technological skills for students to take the exams online. In addition, 75 percent of the teachers who responded said they think their students lack the computer skills needed to take the tests.

State Superintendent of Education John White said in February that three of four students attend public schools that meet the state’s minimum technology standard, which is one computer or tablet for every seven students.

Monaghan said that ratio is not enough.

“They must have the correct hardware and operating system, and the school must have adequate Internet access,” he said.

Asked if White wanted to comment on the survey, Barry Landry, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said in a prepared statement that more than 76 percent of students attend schools that meet minimum technology rules and 79 percent of schools have the minimum bandwidth to support online testing, up from 55 percent and 41 percent, respectively, one year ago.

While field tests were done earlier this year, students in grades three through eight are supposed to take the tests for the first time in earnest next year.

Those in third and fourth grades will take paper-based tests. Districts can opt out of computers in favor of paper-based tests for students in grades five through eight for the 2014-15 school year only.

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