Wednesday, October 02, 2013


By Kimberly Beltran, SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources

Thursday, October 3, 2013  ::  Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday officially ushered in California’s transition to new computerized student testing when he signed into legislation authorizing the use of the Common Core-aligned assessments.

The governor also approved several other education bills, including one that provides a mechanism for schools to continue diagnostic assessments of second graders, and another that allows for adoption of K-8 instructional materials aligned to Common Core English language arts standards.

“Faced with the choice of preparing California’s children for the future or continuing to cling to outdated policies of the past, our state’s leaders worked together and made the right choice for our students,” state schools chief Tom Torlakson said in a statement about the signing of AB 484, which he sponsored. “These new assessments represent a challenge for our education system – but a lifetime of opportunity for students. As a teacher, I’m thrilled to see our state and our schools once again leading the way.”

Written by Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the legislation suspends as of this school year most of state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting or STAR program, giving districts time to transition to new curriculum based on Common Core standards and to prepare for the new assessment system known as MAPP – Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress.

Brown’s 2013-14 budget, signed in June, invests $1.25 billion in professional development, instructional materials and technology to support the implementation of Common Core Standards in California.

AB 484 provides direction to the State Board of Education, Torlakson and the California Department of Education for transitioning schools to the new computer-based assessments as well as for the administration and future expansion of the MAPP program.

California is gearing up for a trial run this spring of the new assessments, currently under development by a consortium of states known as Smarter Balanced. Students will not be scored during the testing trial; rather, officials are looking to see how students handle navigating the test itself, being administered for the first time on computers.

There had been little question that Brown would sign the bill despite the controversy it sparked by suspending almost all testing for the 2013-14 school year – including federally-mandated assessments used for measuring student academic achievement under No Child Left Behind.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan had earlier threatened to withhold federal education funding if the state adopted the measure but has since eased up on his hardline approach, saying the department is willing to work with states in transition.

Also on Wednesday, Brown signed SB 247 by Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, which requires the CDE to identify selected second grade diagnostic assessments and ensure that they are valid for determining what knowledge or skills a student has or has not acquired.

Second-grade assessments would be lost under the STAR-to-MAPP transition but educators and their advocates argued that some sort of early diagnostic is needed to ensure that the youngest learners are on track prior to reaching third grade.

Under SB 247, CDE must, by Nov. 1, 2014, identify for school districts existing Common Core-aligned assessments in English language arts and math that are appropriate for diagnostic use by classroom teachers for use in grade two.

The bill specifies that savings from the elimination of grade two achievement tests may be used by LEAs who choose to administer the new diagnostic assessments. It also makes clear that the results of these assessments are to be used to inform instruction and make educational decisions but are not intended to be “valid measures of pupil, personnel or LEA accountability.”

Here is a brief synopsis of the other education bills signed Wednesday by Brown:

  • SB 201 by Liu – Authorizes the State Board of Education to adopt K-8 instructional materials that are aligned to the Common Core English language arts standards and the Common Core development standards.
  • AB 56 by Assemblyman Shirley N. Weber, D-San Diego – Requires, by July 1, 2015, the State Fire Marshal to propose for adoption by the California Building Standards Commission, for the commission's next triennial code adoption cycle, appropriate standards for the installation of carbon monoxide devices in school buildings.
  • AB 123 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda – Requires the State Board of Education to ensure that the state curriculum and framework on César Chávez and the history of the farm labor movement in the United States, and the state criteria for selecting textbooks, include information on the role of immigrants, including Filipino Americans, in that movement.
  • AB 182 by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo – Establishes parameters for the issuance of local education bonds that allow for the compounding of interest, including, but not limited to, capital appreciation bonds (CABs) and requires local governing boards to be provided additional information regarding the issuance of CABs and current interest bond that are issued for a period over 30 years.
  • AB 308 by Assemblyman Curt C. Hagman, R-Chino Hills – Requires a school district, county office of education or charter school to reimburse the state for any state bond funding it received for a building if that building is subsequently sold and the proceeds used for ongoing general fund purposes. Applies only to property that was purchased, modernized or constructed within 10 years of the sale.
  • AB 424 by Assemblyman Tim M. Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks – Requires the Instructional Quality Commission, when revising the history-social science framework, to consider incorporating the Magna Carta, the Articles of Confederation, and the California Constitution into the framework.
  • AB 700 by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles – Requires the Instructional Quality Commission, when revising the history-social science framework, to ensure that voter education information is included in the American government and civics curriculum at the high school level.
  • SB 300 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley – Requires the State Board of Education, on or before January 31, 2016, to consider the adoption of a revised curriculum framework and evaluation criteria for the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • SB 330 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima – Requires the Instructional Quality Commission to consider developing and recommending to the State Board of Education a distinct category on mental health instruction to educate pupils about all aspects of mental health, when the Health Framework for Public Schools is next revised.
  • SB 552 by Sen. Ronald S. Calderon, D-Montebello – Permits local school district governing boards to provide instruction in grades 1 through 12 on violence awareness, as specified.
  • SB 490 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara – Encourages California community college districts that participate in the Early Assessment Program to consult with the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges to work toward sequencing their pre-collegiate and transfer level English and math courses to the common core academic content standards.

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