(Baton Rouge – July 17, 2013) Louisiana should take advantage of a U.S. Department of Education offer to extend the timetable for implementing Common Core Standards, according to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.
Federation President Steve Monaghan said that the idea behind Common Core may have merit, but that like so many other education reforms that have been imposed recently, teachers and school systems have not been adequately prepared for the change.
In a speech last spring, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on imposing high-stakes consequences that are part of the Common Core assessments. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reacted by announcing that states will be able to apply for extensions to the timetable for the full implementation of Common Core Standards.
Monaghan praised the move to provide more flexibility to states working to implement college and career ready standards. “This is an acknowledgment that successfully implementing new standards takes time, resources, and professional development. This is a chance to get it right,” he said.
States will apply for the extensions through the same process that Louisiana has already used to apply for flexibility in provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Louisiana’s current flexibility waiver requires the state to use the results of Common Core Assessments to make hiring and firing decisions in the 2013-14 school year.
“For the past three years, Louisiana teachers have been subjected to a barrage of new tests, new evaluations and new standards,” Monaghan said. “Imposing the Common Core standards at this time will do little more than drive down test scores and teacher morale. Let’s give our teachers and our students a little breathing room.”
Application for this new flexibility would allow the state Department of Education more time to put in the work necessary to train teachers and administrators on the new assessments, said Monaghan.
Some 45 states will be teaching the new reading and math standards this coming fall. Student assessments based on the new curriculum will be conducted in the spring of 2014. If submitted and approved, the application would allow Louisiana to keep implementing the new assessments, but would prevent them from being used punitively in personnel decision-making until the 14-15 or 15-16 school years.
Applications to allow more time for administrator and teacher professional development, and to ensure accurate personnel decisions are due by September 30. Superintendent White has not indicated whether he will take advantage of this opportunity.
“We are hopeful that Superintendent White will pursue the goal of ensuring a great teacher is at the head of every classroom by utilizing every resource available to him.” said Monaghan. “We believe this waiver application is just such a resource.”