LEAP test hits one more snag

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 8, 2000

I’ll say right off that I have never been an advocate of the new LEAP test rulings. Yes, in other words it can take a flying LEAP. I have no problem with youngsters taking the test, but advancing to the next grade should not be riding on the outcome.

I have a third-grader at Vidalia Lower Elementary and he will be taking the LEAP test next year.

I guess I’ll have to purchase a bottle of Valium that day. No, that’s for me.

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For those unfamiliar with the ruling, fourth- and eighth-graders in Louisiana take the Louisiana Education Assessment Program test for a week and anyone who fails, even if they are a straight-A student, either have to pass a second test in summer school, or repeat the grade.

I thought that was the reason they went to school so long.

Sure hope my son or others don’t come down with the flu that week. Or that Jake’s upset because his best friends voted him out of their latest club.

Then again, how about a youngster from a split family whose parents had a knock-down drag-out fight that morning? We have exceptional teachers in this area who deal with these types of situations weekly and know how to work with these kids. But they can’t help them on a standardized test if they come in bearing problems from home.

And now there appears to be another fly in the ointment (excuse me while I snicker).

The West Monroe school board is investigating reports that some eighth-grade students tried to deliberately fail a promotion test so they would be held back — and obtain another year of athletic eligibility.

Jack White, a member of the Ouachita Parish School Board, said he learned of the scheme from a parent. The reports will be investigated at a board meeting on April 18, White said.

Word around the coaching circle is that West Monroe and Oak Grove were known for holding athletes back in the past until the Louisiana High School Athletic Association stopped that procedure. They would also have their athletes miss more days of school than allowed to be held back, but that also produced another ruling eliminating that avenue of &uot;redshirting&uot; an athlete.

Tommy Henry, commissioner of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, told the Associated Press that his group would look into any report of using the LEAP test as a loophole to play sports an additional year.

”We don’t have any rule to deal with that,” Henry said. ”That’s something that will be discussed.”

Chances are the association will rule that anyone who fails the LEAP test in the eighth-grade will lose a year of eligibility as well.

That’s unfortunate for some youngster who is a solid student, makes good grades and works hard in the weight room, but just does not do well on standardized tests

I know there are arguments on the other side and there may be some good points to this test. But I don’t think it’s worth the demands you put the majority of students — and the extra pressure on teachers.

It will be interesting to see how the LHSAA rules. And it will also be interesting the see the fallout when a straight-A student/athlete who stays in the weight room and is a solid leader just misses passing the LEAP test both times and has to be held back.

Somehow, this venture seems headed to the courts in the future. Unfortunately, an eighth-grade student who just wants to be a normal kid will be on trial.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at joey.martin@natchezdemocrat.com.