Graduation testing requirement appeals policy goes into effect

Dec 20, 2023, 08:00 AM 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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The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) policy establishing an appeals process for the state’s graduation testing requirement went into effect Wednesday, December 20, 2023.

The EXCELL (Expanded Criteria for Every Learner in Louisiana) process 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.

“With the creation of the EXCELL graduation test appeal policy, Louisiana is right-sizing its use of standardized tests,” said BESE President Dr. Holly Boffy. “The potential for this appeals process to create connections between educators and workforce leaders is tremendous. These relationships will translate into meaningful career opportunities for our most vulnerable students and provide a better overall alignment of students’ high school experiences with their post-secondary pursuits.”

Students seeking an appeal must meet the following requirements:

  1. Complete all Carnegie unit requirements for TOPS University or TOPS Tech Career Diploma
  2. Demonstrate content proficiency by:
    • Meeting the standard assessment requirement in a content pair (must test at least twice and complete at least 30 hours of co-requisite or remedial instruction) -and/or-
    • Creating a portfolio of work aligned to the standards for one subject in the LEAP 2025 pair unfulfilled by the standardized test score (future seniors must create a portfolio for both subjects in a pair)
  3. Demonstrate evidence of employability by earning one of the following:
    • A Silver or higher rating on ACT WorkKeys (National Career Readiness Certificate) -or-
    • A TOPS Tech award - or -
    • A Louisiana JumpStart-approved Industry Based Credential
  4. Meet with a local career support organization who can help connect them to opportunities after graduation.

Beginning 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 (SBLC) process to determine if students meet the appeals process criteria. All appeals will be administered at the local school level, and participating students are still required to take the LEAP assessment. Midyear LEAP assessment results currently coming in may be used to help schools to determine which students should file an appeal.

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has developed initial implementation and portfolio guidance for local school systems, which may be accessed here. School administrators should refer to this information in assisting students initiating appeals and contact the LDOE for additional details.

The final policy (reflected in sections 717, 2321, and 2322 of Bulletin 741, Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators) has been published in the December 2023 edition of the Louisiana Register and is available for viewing online here (the policy is found on pages 2091-2094).

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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.