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Louisiana's top schools superintendent seeks quicker review of Common Core education standards

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Seeking to head off a legislative attack against the Common Core education standards, Louisiana's public schools chief proposed Monday to speed efforts to review them and delay consequences for schools that perform poorly in the transition.

The changes recommended by Superintendent of Education John White attempt to blunt efforts by Common Core opponents like Gov. Bobby Jindal to yank the math and English standards from Louisiana's public school classrooms.

A new anti-Common Core offensive is expected in the legislative session that begins April 13. Several school districts have said they're worried about students refusing to take standardized tests aligned with Common Core in mid-March.

White framed his proposals as a "Louisiana-based plan," in response to criticism from Jindal and others that use of the Common Core standards amounts to a national takeover of education in the states, a premise the superintendent has said is inaccurate.

The Jindal administration framed White's expedited review plan as recognition of problems with Common Core.

"We are glad the superintendent has acknowledged that Common Core testing has problems and needs to be revised. This is an important first step as Louisiana works to remove Common Core from Louisiana schools," Jindal assistant chief of staff Stafford Palmieri said in a written statement.

However, White's suggestions, if approved by the state education board, would make only minor adjustments — while keeping Louisiana firmly rooted in Common Core.

White proposes to accelerate a statewide review of the standards that currently is required for 2016 under state regulations. Instead, the superintendent wants to start the detailed look at the standards this fall.

"We're going to make sure they're the best standards to get our kids ready for college and the workplace," he said.

White also proposes that school districts get two years of results from standardized testing tied to Common Core, from testing in 2015 and 2016, before the scores affect school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion in Louisiana's accountability system.

That would delay accountability consequences from the testing until the 2016-17 school year, a year longer than currently planned.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider the recommendations at its meeting next week. The ideas were floated first by four state lawmakers in letters submitted to newspapers before White announced his support of the concepts.

White said the recommendations would maintain consistency for teachers who have had several policy changes thrust upon them in recent years, while also continuing accountability that allows Louisiana students to be measured against students from other states.

He described the plans as "unique to Louisiana, but comparable to other states."

The bipartisan National Governors Association in 2009 helped develop the standards aimed at improving schools and students' competitiveness across the nation.

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