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Principal warns that tougher tests are coming and state must play catch-up; teachers lauded

Repercussions of the newly adopted Common Core State Standards Initiative dominated discussion at the October  board meeting of Choice Foundation, which operates Lafayette Academy and Esperanza Charter School.

“I expect our test scores, the state’s test scores, to go down,” Lafayette principal Mickey Landry said. “In some cases, these scores may even go down dramatically.”

Board Chair James Huger began the meeting at 4 p.m., with all board members present, and an audience of 15, mostly school faculty plus a reporter for The Lens.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was adopted in July by the Louisiana Department of Education. Rigorous, nationwide tests of students in grades 3 through 12  will be administered in Louisiana by the 2013-2014 school year. In his oral  report to the board, Landry said the state education department is way behind in preparing its schools for the Common Standards. He said several factors, including local dialects, could spell trouble for students when the tests are administered in three years.

To illustrate his concern, Landry handed out two sheets with challenging sample questions form the tests for third- and fourth-graders and for fourth- and fifth-graders.  A math question asked students to identify what quarter of a diagram was shaded; the English test question was to determine the meaning of the metaphor in one poem and to contrast it with the simile in another.

Landry did deliver some good news though.

He praised Lafayette teachers for their hard work and said the 89.2% Growth School Performance Score – one of the highest in the parish – showed that the school was “firmly” on the right track. He also pointed out that a Teacher – Student Achievement Results Report issued recently by the state showed that students were responding to the new teaching techniques.

In the last hour of the meeting, the board approved a provisional budget for the 2011 – 2012 year. The total operating expense for both schools was shown to be $12.4 million, with a total operating revenue of $12.8 million.

The board discussed having a fundraiser via the internet. Huger said that the charter would use a viral video titled “Click, not Drink” to attract potential donors. The matter will be further discussed at the next board meeting, Nov. 30.

The board adjourned at 6:09 p.m.

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