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New Testing Unveiled for California Schools, Would Reduce STAR Testing

The state superintendent's plan would emphasize critical thinking skills. Some STAR testing may be suspended. Do you think this is a move in the right direction?

In the near future, California students will be thinking a lot more and filling in fewer bubbles when they take standardized statewide tests.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, state Superintendent Tom Torlakson  unveiled a new testing system for schools statewide.

The new tests follow the guidelines set forth in the Common Core State Standards. Those recommendations were put together last year by a task force that studied new testing methods under a mandate by the state Legislature.

If approved by state legislators, the new testing system would begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

The superintendent is planning to suspend STAR Program assessments for the coming school year unless the exams are specifically mandated by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or used for the Early Assessment Program (EAP).

This change would suspend STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course exams at the high school level.

Torlakson said the current testing system has improved student learning throughout the state, but it's time to move to a different kind of assessment.

“We're moving to a new dimension, a higher dimension,” said Torlakson.

Torlakson has made a dozen recommendations to the legislature for the Statewide Pupil Assessment System.

One of the keys is to move away from memorization of knowledge and focus more on students' critical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving.

State leaders said the new tests will measure the ability of students to understand and use what they have learned.

“Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college,” said Torlakson.

What do you think? Should the state testing system be revamped? Should we leave it alone? Should we be doing statewide testing at all? Tell us in comments.

Gail Ann January 10, 2013 at 08:38 AM
CALIFORNIA LAW ALLOWS PARENTS TO LEGALLY EXCUSE THEIR CHILDREN FROM THE STAR TESTING GIVEN EVERY SPRING FOR GRADES 2ND THROUGH 11TH! CALL THE CA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION S.T.A.R OFFICE AT 916-445-8765 AND ASK THEM IF YOU CAN LEGALLY OPT-OUT OF THE STAR TESTING! THEY WILL SAY YES! THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS WRITE A LETTER TO THE PRINCIPAL STATING THAT YOU WANT TO OPT YOUR CHILD OUT OF STAR TESTING!!! SIMPLE AT THAT!! SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!! SEE http://www.pencilsdown.org/california.html AND http://www.pencilsdown.org/kit/california.pdf FOR MORE INFO!
Gail Ann January 10, 2013 at 08:40 AM
Hey, see my post below, it may help you...
Louis Educe January 10, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Gail Ann, while you are correct on the parent opt out right please make sure and tell parents to ask the school/district what the STAR scores are used for with in the disrtict/school/grage-level. if the child is in the middle grades (7th and 8th are most important) these scores are used to make placement choices for high school courses. Many HS counselors will NOT look very closely at grades (A,Bs) because of the fear of grade inflation - unless you can make sure you child also have some non-biased, standardized (normed) test data their placement choices might be limited. If your child is a high performer you can have them start taking the PSAT in 8th grade (but they will be compared to 10th grade standards). At the lower grade levels the CST data is used to also make placement choices into intervention as well as higher level instructional clusters. Be well aware of the implications of withdrawing your child from the testing before you just exercise you right to "make a point"
navigio January 10, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Not only that, but CST participation rate is a metric for AYP, so a school that falls below the 95% threshold will not make AYP (not that that matters anymore, nor that it ever mattered for non-title1 schools like SM). I would expect ongoing district assessments are used more than CSTs for placement for intervention given that there are more of them and they are more closely aligned with what is going on the classroom. If its true that schools are using CST results for individual intervention decisions, then I think parents should know that (and realize its probably a bad idea). Your school site council should have info on that since its job is to monitor things like that. In any case, anyone who wants to opt out should also ask their child. They should have a say in the matter.
M Feldman January 12, 2013 at 07:46 AM
Its an interesting idea. Now, though,who is going to pay for all the computers needed for these tests? To make the test fair, each student will have to take them at the same time. Where will the schools put them? Who will pay for IT staff to make sure they are operating properly? Who will pay the insurance for the computers, and for the extra electricity needed at each school site? Where are the facts behind the ability to implement this new plan? This plan needs more details explained.

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