Jindal criticizes Common Core tests

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal. Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday he would not support “one-size-fits-all” testing that goes with the new academic standards called Common Core, which could jeopardize the exams scheduled for next year.

Jindal, who has expressed mixed views about Common Core, made the comment in a prepared statement released amid speculation at the State Capitol that the governor was backing away from a key part of the new academic goals.

The standards, which have been adopted by 45 states, are considered one of the top issues of the 2014 legislative session, including testing plans.

Jindal’s stance is considered a key part of how bills on the issue fare.

Under the plans, students in grades 3-8 are set to take a test next year that measures their knowledge of the new, national academic standards in reading, writing and math.

The exam is developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Backers said the test is a key part of learning how students in Louisiana compare with their peers in other states, and one of the elements to improving academic achievement.

However, bills are pending in the Legislature to delay or do away with the PARCC exam because of complaints that the state needs its own assessments.

In the statement, Jindal repeated his often-stated view that he backs rigor and high academic standards so that students here can compete both nationally and internationally.

“What we do not support is federal, one-size-fits-all testing that potentially breaches student privacy,” according to the statement.

“We have concerns with Common Core and PARCC, and that’s why we asked the state education board and legislators to address these issues,” it says.

Louisiana is one of 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, that plans to use the PARCC exam. Other states use a separate consortium. Some states have opted for their own assessments.

State Superintendent of Education John White, who is the governor’s chief public schools lieutenant, said last month that the Common Core tests will force students to provide more analysis to answers than in traditional bubble tests.

White, one of Louisiana’s top proponents of Common Core, also has said repeatedly that local school districts will be prepared for the exams next year, including computers and other technology.

Stephanie Desselle, who follows public school issues for the Council for a Better Louisiana, which backs Common Core and PARCC, said exams planned to go with the new standards are vital. “We want the state to stay on schedule with the first baseline testing next spring, 2015, because it will be the first time we know how our kids are being educated on the new standards,” Desselle said.

Brigitte Nieland, vice president of education and workforce development for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, said it would cost the state up to $20 million to develop its own tests if PARCC is shelved.

But state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, a key critic of Common Core, said legislative support is building to do away with PARCC. “It is a national test,” Geymann said.

“That means we have to teach to that test,” Geymann said. “That drives the curriculum. We have no control over it.”