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Louisiana to Spend at Least $75M on Five Years of PARCC-ish LEAP 2025 Testing

May 17, 2018

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has contracted with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) for the state’s PARCC-modeled LEAP 2025 assessment portfolio to the tune of $61.5M for five school years (2016-17 to 2020-21).

The complete DRC contract can be found here and here.

The DRC contract includes math and ELA assessments beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through the sophomore year of high school, with K-2 assessments being “formative,” and grades 3-8 and high school math and ELA assessments being  “diagnostic” (beginning of year), “interim,” and “summative” (end of year).

Testing designed to overtake the entire school year grades 3 through 8 and two years of high school– or, as LDOE glowingly describes it in the DRC contract:

The assessments developed through this RFP (Request for Proposal) will end duplicative testing and seamlessly align grades 3 through high school assessments with formative tools, to be used by districts at their discretion. The comprehensive assessment package (K through high school) results in a cohesive assessment system that holds high expectations for students, provides educators and parents about students’ readiness for college and career, and provides for comparisons of Louisiana students to students in other states as mandated by state law.

By now, most will recognize “readiness for college and career” as a Common Core buzzphrase. What the Louisiana public may not realize is that according to Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) projections for 2024, “career readiness” in Louisiana overwhelmingly does not require a college degree. For 12 of the top 25 fastest growing Louisiana jobs, a high school diploma is sufficient. Only 3 out of 25 require a college degree. In short, most Louisiana college graduates should be prepared to leave the state to secure gainful employment.

Let us consider another bit of info in the above DRC contract quote: That of comparison of Louisiana assessments being “mandated by state law.”

I’m just not seeing that mandate in Louisiana Bulletin 118, “Statewide Assessment Standards and Practices,” which was updated in October 2017. Here’s the Bulletin 118 summary of the purpose of LEAP 2025:

Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) 2025.

Criterion-referenced tests in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies in grades 3-8 and end-of-course tests in English I, English II, Algebra, Geometry, Biology and U.S. History in high school assess student performance relative to specific benchmarks established in the state’s content standards and provide data for evaluating student, school, and district performance. The tests assess a student’s complex thinking skills as well as knowledge and application of information.

These assessments will be administered to high school students enrolled in and/or receiving credit for a high school course having a LEAP assessment or retesting for the purposes of graduation.

No mention of LEAP 2025 as being required to “provid[e] for comparisons of Louisiana students to students in other states”– which raises questions regarding the truth that to satisfy state law, LEAP 2025 must be constructed such that Louisiana can be compared to other states.

Note also that the same DRC contract stipulates that the LEAP 2025 summative assessments are supposed to be “uniquely-Louisiana summative assessments in grades 3 through 8, English I, Algebra I, English II, and Geometry,” which means that those supposedly  “uniquely Louisiana” assessments must be “comparable with a significant number of other states.”

Sounds like LDOE is trying to pull off Common Core-PARCC-consortium testing without calling it that.

Interestingly enough, in its advertisement for test scorers, DRC describes its work as follows:

DRC hires individuals to work in temporary, full-time and part-time evening positions, scoring written responses to standardized tests administered to children in elementary through high school age in compliance with the Common Core State Standards.

Anyone familiar with Louisiana’s rebranded standards knows that they are overwhelmingly the Common Core State Standards. Louisiana’s DRC contract admits as much and blatantly calls for rebranding. For example, in a section entitled, “K-2 Formative Tasks,” the DRC contract includes this stipulation:

The K-2 Formative Tasks will be assessed via a single-sign on via eDIRECT to the PARCC Resource Center to access K-2 formative tasks and resources. These tasks will be aligned to Louisiana Student Standards and branded appropriately. Branding includes, replacement of text, graphics, etc. with Louisiana approved logos and page designs approved by LDOE.

The DRC contract also notes numerous times, “PARCC delivers items and test maps.”

The PARCC presence in Louisiana assessments is no surprise; for one year only (2015-16), the Legislative Compromise of 2015 required that just under half (49.9 percent) of Louisiana assessment items could be PARCC items:

Not more than forty-nine and nine-tenths percent of the questions included in the selected assessments shall be based upon a blueprint or intellectual property developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium, or any other federally funded consortium of states. …

The provisions of this Paragraph shall become null and void on July 1, 2016.

Thus, Louisiana’s “unique” assessments can (and apparently do) include a substantial percentage of items that theoretically can be compared across states. Now, whether that number of states is “significant” remains to be seen. The PARCC website no longer includes the number of participating states or a listing of its governing board. Moreover, it seems that PARCC is more an item vendor than anything, which helps PARCC to fly under the radar. So, we’ll see with how many states Louisiana is able to compare its unique(?) assessments.

DRC is not the only test company contracted to produce LEAP 2025. Whereas the DRC contract also mentions WestEd’s assistance with the math and ELA assessments, LDOE has contracted directly with WestEd from October 2015 to June 2020 (and possibly to 2027) for LEAP 2025 social studies and science assessments, which are presumably to develop the state-mandated grade 3 – 8 social studies and science tests as well as the high-school-level biology and US history tests. (I have requested the appendices to these contracts; the appendices include the details about the assessments. I will attach once received. Also, for Louisiana’s testing requirements, see this October 2017 BESE summary.)

As per the two WestEd contracts, LDOE agrees to pay WestEd $13.7M for LEAP 2025 science and social studies tests.

So, that’s a total of $75.2M of Louisiana taxpayer money toward LEAP 2025 over staggered five-year periods (2015-2020 for WestEd; 2016-2021 for DRC). Add to that $3.2M for the single-year,  2015-16 DRC contract  for half-PARCC math and ELA tests, and the assessment payout to $78.4M toward LEAP 2025 (2015-2021). However, that number is not exhaustive. Either DRC or WestEd like figure in there somewhere for social studies and science tests.

And there’s still state-mandated, taxpayer-funded ACT testing to consider. But I will save that for another post.

But let us take a moment to think about what we are doing to our students and schools.

Constant testing. Beginning of year, mid-year, end-of year for grades 3 through 11 (including the mandatory ACT for juniors). And testing even in earlier grades (K-2). A constant strain on school resources. Instructional time seriously disrupted; students herded into alternative arrangements because their teachers must proctor tests; classrooms and computer labs unavailable for learning for weeks stretching into months. State and local resources strained in order to pay for testing and retesting, several hours at a time.

This is not excellence. It is a futile, costly obsession.

I wonder how long it will take for Louisiana parents to get tired of the likes of LEAP 2025 to the degree that they pressure their legislators to seriously curtail the testing and instead invest in the public schools most of the millions doing little more than enriching testing companies.

How many flushes before parents realize what is happening to their kids in the name of “college and career ready” and act accordingly?

We could use your support, Louisiana parents.

flushing money 2

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

7 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    “Constant testing. Beginning of year, mid-year, end-of year for grades 3 through 11 (including the mandatory ACT for juniors). And testing even in earlier grades (K-2). A constant strain on school resources. Instructional time seriously disrupted; students herded into alternative arrangements because their teachers must proctor tests; classrooms and computer labs unavailable for learning for weeks stretching into months. State and local resources strained in order to pay for testing and retesting, several hours at a time.”

    I wonder what this works out to on a per-student basis, per-teacher basis, per grade-level basis, per subject, per school, and so on. On average, what percentage of retesting must be done and why? There is so much that is murky here, unless you can see the details in the contracts and have the time and interest in doing the forensic analyses. This is one of Mercedes great strengths. She has given links to the contracts. I have the feeling (from Ohio) that a lot of VIP information is proprietary and closed from public view.

    • add to this the endless removal of kids from classrooms for make-up testing, or non-English testing, or reading comprehension testing, some other suddenly decided testing — as if what occurs in the classroom on the days they must leave to be repeatedly tested is irrelevant

  2. “Let us consider another bit of info in the above DRC contract quote: That of comparison of Louisiana assessments being “mandated by state law.””

    They say the same thing in TN. I wonder if it’s a lie too.

  3. Isn’t that convenient. DRC is AIR’s partner. AIR wrote the test for SBAC and have teamed up with other testing vendors such as DRC, Questar, Measurement Inc., WestEd, ETS, et al. AIR/SBAC/DRC would like to give the outward appearance that states can chose which test vendor they would like but it’s a nothing but a lie. A complete and utter farce. Here in FL……AIR was the “chosen” test vendor and AIR immediately “contracted” with DRC. They are all one in the same company. The only difference is they change the test name and state name to whatever state they happen to be servicing. I did a side by side comparison of the AIR DE state test contract and the AIR FL state test contract and the verbiage was word for word…..just the name of the state was different and the name of the test of course. We have screen shots of the test the very first year it was given (2014-2015) from AIR/SBAC & PARCC and it’s also the same exact test. The mantra of having to compare cohorts in other states is old. Very old and one that failed completely. That was also a colossal lie as we all saw with Common Core and the extreme testing failures in different states. I can’t believe they are still using that selling line…….Common Core is a major failure and even the Gates foundation admitted it themselves in 2016. ALL of the selling points of Common Core have been flushed down the toilet along with all the other BS. AIR controls all the testing in the U.S. All of these “testing” vendors are “non-profits”…….but they sure as hell are making LOTS of profits charging the states double and triple digit millions for the “tests”. Someone is making LOTS of $$$$ off the backs of our kids. Let’s not forget the feds have absolutely ZERO AUTHORITY to dictate education policy in the individual states. ZERO…..yet they are doing exactly that through ESSA. WHY are we allowing that?

  4. Tilda Mae permalink

    I see the contract ends in 2021. Do anyone know if it has been renewed?

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: Louisiana Plans to Spend $75 Million on New Tests | Diane Ravitch's blog

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