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New Orleans charter challenged on kindergarten admissions testing
Some Louisiana legacy magnet schools use selective, not random admission, leading to questions over transparency and fairness. - photo by Eric Schulzke
A New Orleans parent whose kindergartener took a test for admission to a selective public charter school wants to know more about the test and how it's used. And the state attorney general may be looking into it.

"Jacob Landry has a soon-to-be kindergartener," the Hechinger report notes, "and he wants to know just the name of the test, not the questions on it or other secure information. He penned a column on his experience seeking the tests name that ran on The Lens on June 9. As a former employee of the Louisiana Department of Education, he said he wants to know if the test being used is appropriate for admissions, and to make sure that its not an IQ test, which is forbidden by state law."

The notion of competitive admissions at the kindergarten level for charter schools cuts across two very current disputes: standardized testing at early ages and the public accountability of charter schools using public funds.

Earlier this year, Slate looked at the New Orleans kindergarten classroom of Molly Mansel, where kindergarteners were expected to perform a whole slate of standardized tests.

"Mansels students started taking tests just three weeks into the 201415 school year," Slate noted. "They began with a state-required early childhood exam in August, which covered everything from basic math to letter identification. Mansel estimates that it took between four and five weeks for the teachers to test all 58 kindergarten students and that was with the help of the prekindergarten team. The test requires an adult to sit individually with each student, reading questions and asking them to perform various tasks. The test is 11 pages long and its very time-consuming."

Meanwhile, battles over charter school accountability continue to flare across the country, including in Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington and Delaware.

In Connecticut, new legislation will require "charter schools to make additional financial disclosures that will include an audited statement of revenues. In addition, the accountability measure places new restrictions on nepotism and requires that all employees, including administrators, undergo background checks," NBC Connecticut reports.

In Georgia, Jarod Apperson, a doctoral student in economics at Georgia State University, wrote an op-ed for arguing that tighter oversight of charters is indispensable to their success.

"As charter schools have expanded across the nation," Apperson wrote, "we have seen the benefits of oversight in ensuring consistent and high-quality education is delivered to students. Massachusetts has a record of strong oversight while Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio are known for their lax accountability. The quality of charter schools in those states, as measured by student learning on annual exams, is consistent with the track record they have established for accountability. Bostons charters significantly outperformed others around the nation in a CREDO analysis published earlier this year."
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