BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers said Monday they support toughening Louisiana's educational standards, but they criticized state education leaders for the way the standards have been rolled out in school districts.
The comments came in a House Education Committee briefing held to discuss concerns that have been raised about the Common Core, a tougher set of grade-level benchmarks adopted by most states for what students should learn in English, reading and math.
Superintendent of Education John White and the president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, defended the standards. They said Common Core will increase rigor and will improve student preparation for college and careers.
But lawmakers said the transition to the standards has happened with too little guidance, training and funding. They criticized state education officials as holding teachers and students accountable without giving them enough preparation.
"I don't necessarily disagree with where we need to get, but I am very concerned about how we're going to get there and who's going to get slaughtered along the way," said Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.
Roemer said BESE will consider ideas in December for helping districts with the shift to new standards, crafting transition policies he said he hopes will alleviate anxiety.
Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core, which will allow states to compare their students' performance. BESE adopted the standards in 2010, and they are being phased into Louisiana classrooms and testing, with plans to have them fully in place by the 2014-15 year.
Teachers are expected to use lesson plans that meet those standards, and the results on the standardized tests that will measure students to the Common Core benchmarks will be used to evaluate teachers.
"Teachers and principals feel that they are not prepared to go to Common Core," said Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport.
Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson said the computers required for the standardized testing planned to coincide with Common Core are costly.
"You're asking us to do all this stuff, but you're not funding it," Havard said.
White said school districts have known for three years that the state was phasing in the standards. He said some have done more than others to prepare. He said the department has provided sample lesson plans, training sessions and curriculum recommendations.
"There are some places where people are just waking up. That's not a matter of money. That's just people," he said.
Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, plans to file legislation in the next regular session, seeking to keep the state from using Common Core. Henry has criticized the standards as a plan to nationalize education.