With the statute authorizing state standardized tests due to expire in June 2014, the incoming Legislature is facing some hard decisions on the future of the state testing system: What subjects should be tested, for whom, how often (not every year in every subject, perhaps), at what cost, and, perhaps the biggest question, for what purpose?
The state will likely end up with a hybrid system, a combination of state-created tests and tests designed in partnerships with other states. The principal partnership is Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two multistate consortia with contracts with the U.S. Department of Education to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Smarter Balanced is designing tests for California and two dozen other states. Its new tests are expected to be more demanding and will require new approaches to teaching. But the tests, due to roll out in spring 2015, will cover only math and English language arts in grades three through eight and an important 11th grade college and career readiness assessment.