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The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has once again approved an appeals process to give students who are unable to pass the LEAP test another option to graduate. Some politicians are saying the plan does not make the grade.

Rueben Wright/TSM
Rueben Wright/TSM

Newly elected state Senators Alan Seabaugh, Thomas Pressly, and Adam Bass told KEEL News on Tuesday morning that they did not approve of the new requirements, and would work to reverse the policy.

BESE President Dr. Holly Boffy says appeals will be administered by local school systems.

“They would also need to demonstrate employability and that could be demonstrated through certain work key score or having an industry-based credential that would qualify them for employment.”

Louisiana is one of eight states that still require minimum standardized test scores for graduation, and is the only state that has not offered an appeals process.

BESE approved lowering the bar for graduating high school seniors. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy believes BESE is taking a massive step backward.

“Every one of my kids in Louisiana can learn. Sometimes they need a bit longer. But it's not going to do them any good to give them a diploma they can’t read.”

In an effort to justify BESE's decision, Boffy says four percent of high school seniors are unable to graduate because they can’t pass the LEAP test. That could mean the students are poor test takers not because they can’t read. She points out that students achieve at different levels.

“If my air conditioning goes out at home, I’m really not looking for someone who's able to analysis poetry, I’m looking for someone who’s going to be able to have the knowledge and skills to be able to fix the air conditioning.”

Senator Kennedy says just over a third of Louisiana public high school students perform on grade level.  He says helping a student graduate counts towards the school’s accountability score.

“It’s not the kids who want to do this. It’s the adults. Because not only do we grade our kids, we grade our schools. If schools have kids that don’t pass the graduation examination, it counts against the grade of the school.”

The House Education Committee has scheduled an oversight hearing for Thursday to review the policy.

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