A panel of Louisiana lawmakers rejected a proposal Thursday to offer high school seniors an alternative to the standardized exam they need to pass in order to graduate.
The House Education Committee considered policy the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) narrowly approved earlier this month aimed at students who struggle with Louisiana Educational Assessment Program exams. The LEAP test measures whether students have mastered their classes sufficiently to graduate or advance to the next grade.
BESE President Holly Boffy supported the change, arguing that LEAP testing unfairly penalizes students who otherwise perform well in the classroom. The Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the state’s leading teachers’ unions, and several school superintendents were in favor of the new policy, as it would have also given schools credit on their state accountability scores for students who graduated without passing the LEAP test.
State Education Superintendent Cade Brumley opposed the proposal, arguing that it watered down graduation requirements at a time when the state should be bolstering its standards.
“Now is not the time, in my opinion, to think about lowering the bar,” he said. “I just don’t think this is the right approach.”
Gov.-elect Jeff Landry has also come against the new policy. State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, who’s House Education chairman, said that was reason enough for the committee to delay its consideration. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy also spoke against the proposal in a video played at Wednesday’s hearing.
Harris moved to reject the policy, which the committee supported in an 8-3 vote. Lawmakers have four days to send their decision to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who then has 10 days decide whether to let it stand. The governor has historically not stepped in to reverse its policy decisions.
Landry takes over as governor on Jan. 8.
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Correction: This story was updated to revise the process for the governor’s review of the committee’s decision.
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