Senate Bill 1458, which will shift California’s chief measure of a high school’s performance, from a near exclusive reliance on state test scores to a broader gauge of student accomplishment and preparation for college and the world of work, is now law.
After Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Wednesday, its sponsor, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, predicted in a press release that the bill “will prove to be one of the most significant education reform bills of the decade.”
Starting in 2016, test results of the California Standards Tests will comprise no more than 60 percent of a high school’s Academic Performance Index, or API, the three-digit score that, next to a school’s mascot, has become its identity. Less prescriptive than last year’s version of the bill, which Brown vetoed with a caustic message, SB 1458 doesn’t dictate what the other elements comprising the 40 percent (or more) will be; the bill leaves that up to the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to determine. But it does makes clear that those measures should reflect success in preparing students for higher education and the workplace. Steinberg has said these elements might include high school and middle school graduation and dropout rates, or factors such as the proportion of students who pass Advanced Placement exams, are eligible for a four-year state university (complete the A-G course requirements), graduate without need for college remediation in English and math, or have completed a Partnership Academy program in a career pathway and qualified for college credit in that area.