Thursday, October 1, 2015

Public Records Request for PARCC data

          Today a group of legislators, BESE members, school board members, educators, and citizens filed a formal public records request for the purpose of securing the release of vital data from the Common Core tests that were given to Louisiana students almost six months ago.
            These public officials and citizens believe that the results of the Spring 2015 PARCC testing are in the possession of the Louisiana Department of Education and therefore constitute public records under Louisiana law.
            The law provides that any Louisiana citizen over the age of 18 may request any public record and that the custodian of public records must provide such public records immediately, but at least within a period of five business days.
            These citizens believe that this formal public records request is necessary because numerous similar informal requests by various citizens have either been denied or ignored by the State Superintendent.
            Representative Brett Geymann, the lead author of Common Core related legislation this last session expressed frustration that the data from the tests has not been provided to the educator and parent committee that was formed to revamp the standards. He said, “This last legislative session we attempted to remove the Common Core Standards from our curriculum because it was not appropriate for our school children. However in the course of the legislative process we worked out a compromise agreement that required a thorough review of the present Common Core Standards for the purpose of developing new standards that would benefit our students. Unfortunately, now we find that the Standards Review Committee is being denied access to the test results that could help to inform their work in revising the standards. This is in violation of the spirit of the agreement. The taxpayers paid millions of dollars for these tests and we should have the results in a form that can help the revisions committee.”
Representative Schroder echoed those sentiments, “We kept our end of the bargain. Time is running out for the committee. They need the information now. We are not asking that the test itself be released. We just want the standard each question tests and what percentage of students got it right.”
BESE member, Jane Smith, a former superintendent and state legislator, pointed out that she had helped negotiate the compromise, “I have said from the beginning that I want to see a successful review of the standards. I believe we can achieve that if the review panel is given all the tools necessary to have a pure and transparent process. The chairman of the review panel asked for an item-by-item analysis and I believe that should be honored.
            According to attorney, J. Arthur Smith III representing the group of public officials and citizens: “The purpose of the public records law is to provide Louisiana citizens and parents of Louisiana Public school students full and free access to information gathered on their behalf and with their tax dollars. We cannot let a government bureaucrat control the information and decide what he will dole out to us and what he will hide from us.”
“These test results are public information as long as the data is produced without violating the privacy of the students and their parents. Our public records request complies perfectly with the provisions of the law. We expect the State Superintendent to produce the information immediately, but no later than in 5 business days.”
            “These citizens and public officials intend to release this information to the public as soon as it is provided to them,” he said.
            The parents and public officials announced that they intend to also recommend to BESE that as soon as feasible, the State Superintendent be directed to provide individual student results to the parents or guardians of all students who took the 2015 PARCC test, with the opportunity for parents to view both the raw scores and scale scores for each of their children participating in the testing and their relationship to the Common Core standards.  At all times the privacy rights of these parents and their children should be protected. Also at the option of the parents, such information may be shared with the child’s current teacher so that this information may assist the teacher in better instructing the student during the current school year.
The following are the participants in this public records request:
1.     Representative Brett Geymann, Calcasieu
2.     Representative John Schroder, St Tammany
3.     Representative Rogers Pope, Livingston
4.     Representative Lance Harris, Rapides
5.     Representative Bob Hensgens, Vermilion
6.     Representative Kenny Havard, East and West Feliciana and Zachary
7.     BESE  member, District 3, Dr. Lottie Beebe
8.     BESE member, District 4,  Mary Harris
9.     BESE member, District 8, Carolyn Hill
10. BESE member at large, Jane Smith, Bossier
11. School Board member, St Tammany Parish, Jack Loup
12. School Board member, East Baton Rouge, Vereta Lee
13.  Educator and Stan. Review Committee member, Suzette Riddle, Vermilion
14. Educator, Lee Barrios, Abita Springs
15. Retired educator, Michael Deshotels, Zachary
16.  Educator, Dr. Barbara Ferguson, Research on Reforms, New Orleans
17. Citizen, Tom Aswell, Denham Springs
18. Educators and parents, Dr. Jessica and Dr. Mitch Stubbs, Pearl River
19. Parent, Jason France, Baton Rouge
20. Educator, Michael Kreamer, Lafayette
21. Citizen, Johnny Fatheree, Downsville
22. Parent, Tania Nyman, Baton Rouge
23. Parent, Karran Harper Royal, New Orleans
24.  Educator, Dr Raynard Sanders, New Orleans
25. Educator, Dr. James Finney, Baton Rouge
26. Educator, Noel Hammatt, Baton Rouge
27. Educator, Bonnie Stokes, Covington
28. Parent, Mirza Marin, Slidell
29. Parent and educator, Stacy Lovitt, Slidell
30. Educator, Charles J. Hatfield, Research on Reforms, Gonzales
31. Citizen, Ashley Reeb, Chalmette
32. Citizen, Jessica Janneck, Chalmette
33. Educator, Dr John St. Julian, Lafayette

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