Monday, July 08, 2013


By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report |

Monday, July 8, 2013  ::  Buying and installing a new system of K-12 student assessments aligned to the common core state standards will likely cost California $67 million, according to a report before the board of education this week.

For that price, the state would receive test developer Smarter Balanced’s “complete system,” which includes several types of assessments as well as a digital library – all of which is proposed in key legislation that would authorize the transition to the new assessments.


2cents smf ●●smf: The $67 million estimated cost spectacularly underestimates the cost of implementing the Common Core State Standards testing program

  • At that rate, the cost would be only be $11.17 per student for each of 6 million California's schoolchildren.
  • HOWEVER we know that every student will need access to a online-connected computing platform ( a computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone)  connected securely to the web)  to take the tests. In LAUSD the cost for this implementation is estimated at $500 million plus, or $781.25 per each of LAUSD’s 640,000 K-12 students for three years of implementation.
  • Extrapolating these costs to all of California increases the cost in California by $4.7 billion (with a B) and this does not include the $67 million or the costs of training teachers and buying all (it includes some) of the instructional content (textbooks/library materials/etc.) to align to the Common Core.

The new assessment system is just one piece of the complex puzzle state education officials face as California transitions its K-12 school system to new standards. With the governor’s signature last week on legislation restructuring school finance, an array of policy questions now confront the California State Board of Education – charged with implementing new accountability requirements, new student performance measurements and a new assessment system.

“We’re still manning the ship that we currently have while at the same time trying to build a new ship as we go toward the new assessments,” said Deb Sigman, deputy superintendent at the CDE’s District, School & Innovation Branch. “We are investing in this system because we think it’s the right thing to do. And I think we’re nimble enough and have enough knowledge and content expertise that we can respond to the challenges that are going to come. And there will be some. There’s no doubt. We’re changing a whole system.”

In addition to monitoring the work on the new student assessments being developed by Smarter Balanced – a state consortium in which California is a lead member – the SBE this week is being asked to adopt new K-12 science standards, and recommend to the governor and legislature that the state delay implementation of a planned individual student academic growth model until the new assessment system is up and running.

State board members are also following the California Department of Education’s work around restructuring the Academic Performance Index, or API, to include factors other than test scores, and they will soon be asked to weigh in on recommendations being presented to them this week in a new report aimed at guiding the state through its transition to new assessments aligned to the common core standards.

The California Long-term Assessment Plan is subject to the approval of Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s AB 484, legislation that authorizes the suspension of the state’s current Standardized Testing and Reporting program in favor of the new Smarter Balanced assessments – to be known as the California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress for the 21st Century, or CalMAPP21. The bill, scheduled to be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee in August, is widely expected to pass the Legislature and be signed into law.

The Long-term Assessment Plan also calls for the suspension of STAR testing effective this coming school year and for the new CalMAPP21 assessments to be given in the 2014-15 school year.

One interesting recommendation of note in the plan is that it suggests using the new English language arts and mathematics grade 11 assessments as an indicator of college readiness – a task currently fulfilled through the California Standards Test/Early Assessment Program, which would be suspended. The assessments provide for entrance into credit-bearing, college-level courses without the need for remediation.

The plan is divided into two major sections that identify immediate, intermediate and long-term moves the state must make in order to successfully transition to the new assessments.

According to Sigman, who also serves on the governing board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which California joined in 2011, the legislature will need to approve additional funding to allow for the purchase of the new SBAC assessment system.

Since the state makes an annual appropriation of about $54 million for the STAR administration contract, an additional $13 million would be needed to buy and administer the $67 million new system, which includes summative, interim and formative assessments. These tests, in grades 3-8 and grade 11, will be what are called ‘computer adaptive’ tests that are electronically administered and that adjust the difficulty of the questions based on the student’s responses.

It is important to note, she said, that this cost does not reflect the cost of implementing all of the components of the assessment system proposed in AB 484 and described in Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s recommendations.

“We think this is a good investment for California,” Sigman said.

A “basic system” offering only one summative assessment is estimated to cost $59 million, and an optional set of high school assessments for grades 9, 10 and 12 can be added to either system for an additional cost, according to a staff report prepared for the state board meeting.

The plan also calls for the development of new assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, which the state board is being asked to approve.

And, while the board will eventually be asked to approve a restructured API, work continues on reducing the impact of test scores and including college- and career-readiness indicators into the school accountability tool.

The CDE, working with the Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee, has held stakeholder meetings and conducted a survey to receive input from the field on what items should be included to show that schools are successfully preparing all students for college and careers.

To read the individual staff reports or the California Long-term Assessment Plan, go to and in the upper right corner under What’s New, click the link to the SBE Agenda for July 2013 | FOLLOWS.




Public Session
July 10, 2013

Item 1 (DOC)

Subject: Update on the Activities of the California Department of Education and State Board of Education Regarding Implementation of Common Core State Standards Systems.

Type of Action: Action, Information

Item 2 (DOC)

Subject: Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve; Adoption of new Science Content Standards based upon the nationally developed Next Generation Science Standards as required by Education Code 60605.85.

Type of Action: Action, Information

Item 3 (DOC)

Subject: Information on California’s Participation in the National Center and State Collaborative Alternate Assessment Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development, and Assessment Activities for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities.

Type of Action: Information

Item 4 (DOC)

Subject: California Long-term Assessment Plan.

Type of Action: Information

Item 5 (DOC)

Subject: Update on Statewide Assessment Transition and Smarter Balanced Assessment Development Activities.

Type of Action: Information

Item 6 (DOC; 1MB)

Subject: General Educational Development Test: Approve Commencement of a 15-Day Public Comment Period for Proposed Amendments to California Code of Regulations, Title 5 sections 11530 – 11532

Type of Action: Action, Information

Item 7 (DOC)

Subject: Local Control Funding Formula: Discussion of Proposed Changes to California’s Local Educational Agency and School Planning and Accountability System.

Type of Action: Action, Information

Item 8 (DOC)

Subject: Status of the English Language Development (ELD) Standards Implementation Plan for California.

Type of Action: Information

Item 9 (DOC)

Subject: California English Language Development Test: Update on Transitioning to the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California.

Type of Action: Information

Item 10 (DOC)

Subject: Update on the California Department of Education’s Implementation Timeline and Process for Incorporating New Indicators into the Academic Performance Index Consistent with Education Code Sections 52052 through 52052.9 to Modify the Academic Performance Index.

Type of Action: Information

Item 11 (DOC)

Subject: School Accountability Report Card: Approve the Template for the 2012–13 School Accountability Report Card.

Type of Action: Action, Information

Item 12 (DOC)

Subject: Approval of the Recommendation to the Governor and Legislature on the Development of a Growth Model as Required by Education Code Section 52052.5(d).

Type of Action: Action, Information

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