At a meeting Saturday morning, Lusher’s board fretted over an upcoming slew of student tests, including ACT, AP Placement, finals and more.
“This is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered,” said Kathy Reidlinger, the school’s chief executive. “We want the state to make limited amounts of tests [in the future].”
Along with the state LEAP test, now in its last year, Lusher students will soon take a “field test” version of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) test, an exam aligned with the state’s new Common Core standards. The field test will be used to refine the PARCC exam before it is made official next year.
To give board members and educators a taste of what’s involved in the test, the school’s director of operations, Frank Israel, set up more than a dozen laptops. Students will have 90 minutes to complete 18 questions, watch a short video and write an essay. Board members and others at the Saturday meeting answered only six test questions before deciding that the PARCC test has problems.
“Taking this test on some of the older equipment we have now would be maddening,” Israel said.
Most in attendance agreed that being able to navigate the test is as important as knowing the actual answers. Board member Andrea Armstrong said the current design went against best practices in testing. “I thought the material was really interesting,” Armstrong said. “What I don’t like is how badly the questions are drafted.”
Reidlinger said she was optimistic that the state would take Lusher’s criticisms into consideration when finalizing the test for 2015, but she stressed the need to teach students keyboard skills in the meantime and to provide them with the best laptops for test taking. The test is online for parents who would like to try it.
In her report on facilities, Reidlinger said the bid process is going smoothly towards construction at both Lusher’s lower-school campus on Willow Street and its high school on Freret Street.
The board then discussed moving the school’s banking from Whitney to First NBC. “First NBC is a local bank, they’re entrenched in New Orleans, they helped after the flood giving people loans, they have a similar ethos to the school,” board president Blaine LeCesne said. “I wish we’d made the move years ago.” He cited more favorable interest rates and noted that the bank provides a courier service to pick up funds at the school, which he called a safety consideration.
The next meeting is March 3.