Minden Press-Herald

Thursday
Oct 02nd

Bills would give school boards more liberty

capitolwebWith Common Core standards still in the Legislative mix, Rep. Gene Reynolds, says at least House Bill 988 is a good choice to address it.

HB 988, authored by Rep. John M. Schroder, R-Covington, "permits public school governing authorities to develop and implement curriculum, content, and methodology in lieu of that recommended by the state Dept. of Education or the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education."

"With this bill, the local school boards can make choices on curriculum, textbooks, materials and the content," Reynolds said. "They always have been able to do that but now it's going to be in statute."

Bringing choices back to the local level means parents or guardians with curriculum problems can contact their school board members for aid.

"They (local school boards) can make changes," he said.

Dr. Daniel Rawls, Superintendent of Webster Parish Schools, said the bill is another attempt to exercise independence from Common Core.

"It is a complex situation," he said. "If you have 70 school districts, and everybody is doing something different, you're not all going to be on the same page when it comes to testing and comparisons if you're using another curriculum."

If a student transfers from one district to another, that child may have difficulty adjusting, Rawls said.

"When it comes time for testing, he's going to have a different learning curve than the other children who have been on that curriculum," he said.

Rawls said he feels the state was right when Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum was developed.

"The downfall there was it was not routinely and regularly updated," he said. "It was pretty much built and handed to us and said, 'OK, teach this.' I think that's why there are so many people looking for something else – something more modern and up to date."

HB 1199, also by Schroder, "provides relative to parents' access to information about schools and instructional materials used by schools."

The bill, with a few amendments, passed the House Education Committee unanimously Wednesday. In it, parents will be given three opportunities to review certain things by request.

"It puts into legislation that local school boards have to come up with a policy for a procedure by which the parents can look at testing questions and materials after a test is given," Reynolds said. "They can read a survey before it goes out and certain other instructional materials."

One of the amendments concerning parental access to instructional materials deleted the words "of any kind" leaving "Review all instructional materials used by or administered to the parent's child."

Another amendment changed "any test, assessment or survey administered to a student" to "any non-secure test, non-secure assessment or survey administered to a student."

Rawls said the question for him consists of whether the tests are teacher-made or standardized tests.

"Norm reference or criteria reference?" he asked. "It makes a difference. If you have a norm reference – standardized test, there are practice tests online on just about every norm reference test ever built. Parents already have access to all of those."

A teacher-made test is another story.

"What this is saying is that if the parents want to see what the test looks like, that information would have to be web based so that parents can see it at their leisure," Rawls said. "We have computer systems in place to contact parents. Some school systems have programs that are very advanced and some are just bare bones."

Reynolds said he has some issues with the bill.

"What needs to be put in the bill, which would make it better is, what if a parent objects to something they see?" he said. "There's no language in this bill to have a procedure to what will happen next."

Reynolds said the bill does not address charter schools or students attending voucher schools.

"Parents are parents," he said. "If you're going to have it in one school, you need to have it in all."

 

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