Louisiana Schools Struggle With Technology Needed for Common Core

Louisiana education officials are working to develop plans to address how schools with technology shortfalls will undertake computerized teaching and testing tied to Common Core.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Chas Roemer and state Education Superintendent John White said that they are fully aware that some schools, especially in rural areas, do not have the necessary technology to properly teach and assess under Common Core, writes Lauren McGaughy in The Times Picayune.

According to White, a “backup technology plan” for these schools will be presented at the December BESE board meeting. The two said that they wanted to do all they could to ensure every school’s transition to the new standards was smooth.

However, they also pointed out that some districts have not done enough over the last five years to plan for Common Core’s rollout this fall.

“We’re going to accommodate any district that’s not ready. We’ve made that concession,” Roemer told the meeting of state representatives on Monday. “But to suggest that school systems, at this point, haven’t been able to properly provide technology, I think that’s a falsity, I think that’s a fallacy.”

White said that the targeted 7:1 ratio of students to computers in the classroom “should be attainable.” The state has taken steps to offer the necessary technology to schools in bulk to save on costs and some have not made steps to take advantage of that, White added.

Lawmakers are concerned about the effectiveness of the new standards. State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie wants to stop the Common Core rollout altogether. He disagreed with the two education officials during the meeting and requested proof the standards will work in Louisiana and assurances student data won’t be shared with federal agencies or private companies.

“I know I have to do something to get the parents in my district and the one in my house to get more comfortable with the material,” Henry said, alluding to his intent to file legislation to block the continued implementation of the standards.

Democratic Caucus head John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, asked the state Department of Education to make the rollout as smooth as possible. He and Baton Rouge Democrat Patricia Haynes Smith were just two of the lawmakers reiterating teachers’ concerns that the implementation of Common Core has happened too quickly and with too little oversight and input from stakeholders.

In answering the questions, White said he will present ideas at the December BESE board meeting on how to mitigate technology deficiencies from school to school. He told lawmakers that the standards have been in the implementation stage for five years – plenty of time for teachers and schools to get ready.

Calling the technology needs a mandate on schools, state Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Franklin, said the state should have spent an extra $500,000 to “buy all of the computers” needed for teaching and testing.

White said the state spends $50 million a year on textbooks that are largely obsolete. “If there were more money for public education, I think we would be the first ones in line to support it,” he said.

11 14, 2013
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