The most sensible way to implement new standardized tests in California is to:
A. Require school districts to give the STAR test one more time, even as scores are dropping and educators and students alike know that the exam is being phased out.
B. Mandate one more year of STAR testing while simultaneously giving students a new pilot test and requiring teachers to learn the new Common Core curriculum.
C. Dump the STAR test now, and allow teachers and students to focus on learning and adjusting to Common Core in preparation for the first official round of testing in spring 2015.
The common sense answer is C. And after much debate, it appears California may be moving in that direction. But if that effort fails, California will continue on a path toward both A and B, meaning more time, money and energy wasted on a testing program that’s already headed for the shelf.
A bill working its way through the state Legislature would allow all districts in the state to accelerate the schedule. AB 484 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would officially replace the STAR program with the new Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress system. The bill, which has been approved in the Assembly and is now in the state Senate, makes sense. By suspending STAR, it would allow teachers and students to focus on the new program, giving more credibility and more meaning to pilot testing this spring. Moreover, it would allow students and parents to get a better understanding of Common Core, a new curriculum that will replace the education and testing systems set up in response to the federal No Child Left Behind program established in 2001.
Under No Child Left Behind, 100 percent of all students were supposed to be proficient or advanced in specific subject areas by next spring. California made great progress on test scores. But given the poverty, mobility and language barriers that plague student populations in many school districts, it was an unrealistic goal from the start.