BESE President withdraws emergency rule regarding graduation testing requirement appeals process

Dec 4, 2023, 13:53 PM by BESE Admin

UPDATE: Gov. Landry vetoed the appeals process policy via Executive Order JML 24-01 on January 8, 2024.

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Today, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Dr. Holly Boffy announced that she is withdrawing an emergency rule that would have immediately enacted BESE’s policy establishing an appeals process for qualifying high school seniors who do not meet the state’s standardized test requirement for graduation.

“As president of BESE, today I am withdrawing the emergency rule I issued on November 29, 2023,” said Dr. Boffy. “My intention was to give the Louisiana Department of Education more time to implement the new appeals process. However, the emergency rule has become a distraction. Instead of going into effect immediately, the policy will now go into effect according to the original schedule when it publishes as final rule in the December 20, 2023 edition of the Louisiana Register.

“I encourage everyone to reach out to their state legislators to encourage them to codify the appeals process in law during the next legislative session. Louisiana is the last state to implement such a process and while it will only be used for a small number of students, it will make a large, positive impact in the lives of these students by giving them opportunities to prepare for a productive role in society using their gifts.”

BESE has directed the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to develop implementation guidance for local school systems. Upon the policy’s adoption as final rule on December 20, 2023, students meeting the policy’s eligibility requirements, including those who would have graduated with the Class of 2023, may exercise the option to appeal. School districts with seniors who have met all other graduation criteria may move forward with the school-building level committee process at that time to determine if students meet the appeals process criteria.

Originally approved by BESE as a Notice of Intent in June 2023, the EXCELL (Expanded Criteria for Every Learner in Louisiana) appeals process policy has progressed through months of public engagement and dialogue. Today’s update regarding the policy was made at a news conference in Baton Rouge in which Dr. Boffy, BESE At-large Member Dr. Belinda Davis, and other educators shared data and case studies to demonstrate the importance of providing an appeal option for the state’s LEAP scoring graduation requirement. The full news conference is available for viewing online at

EXCELL provides an appeal option for seniors who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills sufficient to graduate, but struggle with difficulties related to standardized tests, such as English Language learners and students with other learning challenges. Among other requirements, eligible students must complete all Carnegie unit requirements for the TOPS University or TOPS Tech Career Diploma, submit a portfolio of work aligned to LEAP 2025 standards, demonstrate evidence of employability, and meet with a local career support organization that can help connect them with post-graduation opportunities. Appeals will be administered at the local school level, and students would still be required to take the LEAP assessment.

More information and requirements related to the appeals process is available in the June 14, 2023 news release from BESE’s original approval of the policy:

The complete policy is available for viewing online at

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For more information, contact:
Kevin Calbert

BESE is the administrative policymaking body for elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana. The Board sets key education initiatives and works to outline an education agenda to achieve continuous improvement of public education as measured by student and school achievement.