September 11, 2013
Legislature Approves Major Updates to Student Assessments
AB 484 Now Goes to Governor's Desk for Signature
SACRAMENTO—Legislation that would move California assessments into an era of critical thinking and deeper learning has now received state Senate and Assembly approval and is headed to Governor Brown's desk, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.
Torlakson sponsored Assembly Bill 484, which passed the California state Assembly on concurrence vote today after Senate passage Tuesday. Authored by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and coauthored by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, it marks a major step forward in the state's transition to the Common Core State Standards. The legislation suspends most Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments and authorizes new Common Core-aligned assessments known as the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP).
"California's shift to the Common Core is about helping students meet the challenges of a changing world, and AB 484 recognizes that updating the way we teach students also means updating the way we test them," Torlakson said. "Lawmakers see that our students must graduate with more than knowledge, but with the ability to apply that knowledge to work collaboratively and solve problems."
The MAPP testing program will be made up of assessments being designed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two multistate organizations formed to create the next generation of assessments aligned to the Common Core. Field tests of the new assessments, set for the spring of 2014, are designed as "tests of the tests." The consortium developing the assessments recently announced that the field tests will be widely available, allowing states to offer them to more than a representative sampling of students.
Brown has already indicated his support for the measure, as have education leaders around the state. Statements of support include:
Vernon M. Billy, California School Boards Association Executive Director: "On behalf of the California School Boards Association, which represents nearly 1,000 school districts and county boards of education statewide, we are pleased to support AB 484. The bill will ensure that California's schools can spend the 2013-14 school year focused on teaching and learning the new core content standards in mathematics and English language arts. Without this focus and without suspending the current assessments for 2013-14, we will end up over-testing students and testing them on old standards. This will cause confusion for students and will not benefit them academically. It's a much better use of our teachers' and students' time and effort to begin learning the Common Core curriculum and preparing for the new Smarter Balanced assessments so that problems can be identified and solved prior to full implementation in the spring of 2015. AB 484 makes this possible."
Dr. Darryl Adams, Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent: "The Board of Trustees, students, staff, and parents of the Coachella Valley Unified School District give our overwhelming support to the State Superintendent, the State Board of Education, the Legislature, and the Governor in suspending the STAR test and expanding field testing for the Smarter Balance of Assessment examinations.... The passage of AB 484 will give our students the opportunity to experience the new assessments and allow our teachers to prepare our students for the real Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2014-15."
Wesley Smith, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators: "AB 484 is supported by thousands of California superintendents and principals because it helps ensure a smooth transition for students and schools to Common Core State Standards. It just makes sense to give schools and teachers the opportunity to fully implement our recently adopted standards rather than focus on the California Standards Tests, which are not aligned to the instruction we are implementing in our classrooms. We urge lawmakers to approve AB 484 because it allows our students, teachers, and school communities to focus on what matters to them now."
Randolph Ward, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools: "AB 484 will allow us to prepare our students and staff for success rather than set them up for frustration. To do otherwise—to maintain two testing systems each of which requires very different instructional techniques and looks at very different skills—will result in a schizophrenic environment in our schools that isn't in anyone's best interest. Suspending the STAR tests and expanding field testing of new assessments allows time for educational leaders to prepare students for a completely different manner of demonstrating knowledge while ensuring districts have the means to provide accountability to the public."
Christopher Steinhauser, Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent: "The Long Beach Unified School District supports AB 484 because we plan to administer Smarter Balanced assessments in grades three through eight and eleven this school year, giving teachers the opportunity to fine-tune their practice relative to this new assessment environment. This approach also provides students the chance to experience the new tests before the results are used for accountability purposes."
Other supporters of the bill include:
- Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (Co-Sponsor).
- San Diego Unified School District.
- Torrance Unified School District.
- Whittier Union High School District.
- Franklin-McKinley School District.
- Riverside County Superintendent of Schools.
- Los Angeles County Office of Education.
- California Federation of Teachers.
- California Teachers Association.
- California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.
- Californians Together.
- Bay Area Council.