BESE rejects pandemic-driven bid to ease grad requirements

May 5, 2022 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A proposal to allow high school seniors statewide who have failed to reach graduation requirements to do so by meeting other, easier standards — an idea aimed at helping students whose performance suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic — was rejected Thursday by the state’s education board.

The Advocate reports that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s vote was 5-3 in favor of the bill. But it needed six votes of the 11-member board. Three members were absent.

About 2,400 students statewide do not qualify for graduation because they were unable to pass end-of-course exams designed to ensure that they have a minimal understanding of U. S. history, math and other key subjects, according to The Advocate.

Supporters of the waiver said the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptions of classes since 2020 justified academic leniency. Member Holly Boffy of Lafayette said the policy would benefit students who are ready to enter the workforce and become contributing members of society.


Ronnie Morris, a BESE member who lives in Baton Rouge, opposed the statewide waiver request. He said students need to be ready to enter the global economy.

While the policy was rejected for students statewide, BESE did approve waivers for the roughly two dozen school districts affected by Hurricane Ida, which struck on Aug. 29.

Students in those districts will be able to graduate by getting a composite score of 17 on the ACT, which measures college readiness, or a 17 on the subjects where they failed to meet the benchmarks.

BESE members who supported the statewide waiver were Boffy; Preston Castille, of Baton Rouge; Belinda Davis, of Baton Rouge; Thomas Roque, of Alexandria and Doris Voitier, of Metairie.

Those opposed were Morris; Sandy Holloway, of Thibodaux and Jim Garvey, of Metairie.

Absent were Kira Orange Jones, of New Orleans; Michael Melerine, of Shreveport and Ashley Ellis, of Monroe.