Local officials endorse state plan to change school testing

2013-03-20T14:45:00Z 2013-03-20T19:44:02Z Local officials endorse state plan to change school testingISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
March 20, 2013 2:45 pm  • 

The Napa Valley Unified School District “fully supports” a proposal from the state schools chief to reduce the number of standardized tests students are required to take.

The state superintendent of public instruction, Tom Torlakson, aims to save more than $15 million by suspending standardized tests that are not required by the federal government. The estimated savings would go toward helping California schools transition to a new assessment system.

California is among 45 states that have agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards, which unifies the standards for English and math — allowing students to be taught the same standards even if they change schools or move to a different state.

Common Core tests will replace the current standardized assessment tests in the 2014-15 school year. The Common Core emphasizes critical thinking over memorization, with the goal of having students graduate career- and college-ready.

Torlakson is sponsoring Assembly Bill 484, introduced by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, which would enact his recommendations for transitioning California schools to the new Common Core.

His proposal includes suspending the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program’s (STAR) testing of second graders and end-of-course exams at the high school level. If approved by the Legislature, the suspension would begin in the 2013-14 school year.

Napa school district officials said they were “hopeful” that state legislators would support the proposal “to reduce the redundancy and overlap in state testing,” and shift the cost savings to help school districts transition to the new Common Core testing standards, said Elena Toscano, assistant superintendent of instruction.

“This suspension of some STAR tests will give our teachers much needed time to implement the new common core, to focus on how respective grade level standards have shifted, and to understand needed changes in instruction and assessment,” Toscano said.

Federal testing requirements would not change as a result of the suspension. This would only impact certain assessments that are currently a requirement of the state.

Torlakson’s proposal was part of his January report to the governor and Legislature — “Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System” — that would fundamentally change the state's student assessment system, according to a news release from the California Department of Education.

“Rather than continuing to spend scarce dollars and precious class time on outdated testing, we can invest these resources in developing the next generation of assessments that will help students focus on critical thinking and problem-solving — the skills they will need in college and their careers,” Torlakson said.

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(2) Comments

  1. Madison Jay Hamilton
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    Madison Jay Hamilton - March 20, 2013 4:24 pm
    Implementation of new standards and tests for CCSS will NOT save tax dollars; indeed, hundreds of millions of tax dollars have already been spent by the U.S. Department of Education toward the development of Common Core assessments. (Some of that money has gone to Smarter Balanced, the organization referenced in the article.) I suspect that "the transition to a new assessment system" might prove to be one of the most expensive boondoggles in the history of public education. Tom Torlakson doesn't have the slightest idea regarding the effectiveness of "the next generation of assessments" in their ability to "help students focus on critical thinking and problem-solving..." The standards that have been developed came from one person named David Coleman. Alas, various states signed on to implement CCSS's standards and tests before they were even written! Readers should find out more about David Coleman and role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in developing CCSS. Follow the money!
  2. publiusa
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    publiusa - March 21, 2013 9:16 pm
    This is a scheme developed by the teachers union and its willing dupes at every level. It has nothing to do with education and everything to do with protecting poor teachers pay and retirements.
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