Capitol Alert: California schools may dump decade-old standardized tests

mgutierrez@sacbee.comSeptember 4, 2013 

California leaders are proposing to immediately suspend the state's standardized tests that have become a routine part of assessing its schools for the past decade.

New amendments to Assembly Bill 484 would end the use of STAR tests in math and English for the school year now underway. In its place, schools could opt in to new assessments aligned to Common Core Standards.

The bill originally called for 20 percent of the state's schools to participate in a trial run of the new tests. Now, any district can opt in to test the computer-based test this school year.

"I believe that will allow classroom time to be focused correctly on Common Core," said Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, a former high school teacher from Concord, who authored the bill.

Bonilla said there was concern that teachers would be expected to teach according to Common Core Standards but be held accountable to outdated STAR tests.

"I think this amendment really strengthens the bill," Bonilla said.

She added that Gov. Jerry Brown strongly supported the amendments. The bill is sponsored by State Superintendent of Pubic Instruction Tom Torlakson.

"It's time for a clean break from assessments that are out of date and out of sync with the work our schools are doing to shift to the Common Core and help students meet the challenges of a changing world," Torlakson said in a statement.

STAR tests will be permanently replaced next school year by the new test, called Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress, or MAPP.

Bonilla's office said the Senate will take a floor vote on the bill in the next few days.

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