The Lafayette Parish School Board approved a state plan last night that would give leeway to students who fail the LEAP test.

A Pupil Progression Plan is an annual requirement for school districts that determines how students are promoted from each grade. But the state added a new stipulation this year — that the Lafayette district approved — that eases a long-standing requirement that fourth- and eighth-grade students pass the standardized LEAP test before moving to the next grade.

Director of Academics Karen Williams said the waiver was created for students to adjust to Common Core expectations.

"The state's raising expectations so that students can compete nationally," Williams said, "so during this transition to higher expectations, they've decided that there is a process that would help us not punish students as they go through the testing and are promoted, or possibly retained, in fourth and eighth grade — those high stakes years."

First-time fourth graders who don't pass the LEAP test have to "demonstrate readiness to go on to the fifth grade," Williams said. They'll have to retest and attend summer school.

First-time eighth graders who don't pass LEAP will be placed in a "transitional" ninth grade class the following year after they retest and attend summer school. But they would still graduate a year later than if they had passed.

"In other words, the state is allowing a lot of considerations around retention because of the changes and shifts that they're promoting," Williams said. "It's like a safety net. It's a safeguard for students."

The plan passed 5-4 with Greg Awbrey, Mark Babineaux, Rae Trahan and Tommy Angelle voting against the measure.

Babineaux was against a stipulation in the plan that keeps students in the Lafayette Parish School System even when they're expelled.

"I don't think it's fair to students who do go to school — who do follow the rules, do take the tests — and do so without causing any major disruptions," Babineaux said.

Those students are redirected to alternative programs at N.P. Moss as part of Superintendent Pat Cooper's Turnaround Plan.