By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
California State University, the U.S.’s largest four-year public college system, will no longer ask applicants to furnish SAT or ACT scores for admission after trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to abolish the requirement.
The system joins the ranks of the University of California, which first moved in May 2020 to distance itself from entrance exams before abandoning them entirely last year.
Source: California State University drops standardized testing requirements from admissions | Higher Ed Dive
BY Sydney Johnson
California school officials scratching their heads over how to roll out standardized tests this spring could soon have another option.
On Tuesday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow California school districts to use locally selected tests rather than the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required by state and federal education law.
“It has become clear that the persistent gaps that existed in our education system pre-pandemic have become chasms,” said Rachael Maves, deputy superintendent of public instruction for the Instruction and Measurement Branch of the California Department of Education. “In this context, it seems not only appropriate but necessary” to measure student learning.
Source: California could allow school districts to choose their own standardized tests this year – The Reporter
State schools chief Tony Thurmond on Tuesday quite plainly expressed his disapproval of the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on administering statewide standardized tests in the COVID-19 era.
In a statement issued by the California Department of Education, he called the tests “imperfect measures at best and often provide snapshots of student performance that are far too narrow to help educators in any given year, let alone during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”
“Most years, the results of statewide testing simply reflect the deep and systemic inequities that have placed generations of students at a historic, ongoing academic disadvantage,” he added.
Source: CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
The UC governing board voted in May to largely discontinue the use of entrance exams, dealing a major blow to the College Board and ACT, which rely heavily on revenue the tests generate. A federal judge later ruled, and an appeals court upheld, that the system couldn’t use the SAT or ACT when making decisions on admissions or scholarships for fall 2021.
As part of the system’s initial move to phase out the tests, its leaders said they would study whether they could create or adapt an admissions test to be available for fall 2025 applicants.
Source: U of California groups recommend Smarter Balanced test to replace SAT, ACT | Higher Ed Dive
By Sydney Johnson, EdSource
As Covid-19 cases continue to soar in California, a majority of the State Board of Education is now in favor of pursuing a waiver from the federal government that would remove the obligation to carry out standardized testing for the second year in a row.
The U.S. Department of Education waived federal testing requirements following abrupt school closures in March 2020, but this school year, the department intends to resume testing. Now, as California faces the largest daily number of cases it’s experienced yet, State Board of Education members say they want a testing waiver to be made available for states.
“It would be educational malpractice to require LEAs (local education agencies) to provide results of assessments that really are seriously in jeopardy of being valid going forward,” said State Board of Education member Sue Burr, during a public meeting on Wednesday. “It’s important to make a strong statement about how we feel about that.”
Source: California school officials push for standardized testing waiver amid COVID-19 spike – Times-Herald
The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved the use of shorter standardized tests in English language arts and math this spring, creating a path for collecting critical student data amidst COVID-19 uncertainties.
The Board’s action also recognizes the need for innovative solutions to support students, schools, and districts as they confront myriad challenges associated with the pandemic.
“Our schools and educators need flexibility, options, and ongoing support as they continue to navigate tremendous challenges and collect data across multiple measures to fully understand student learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Source: CA State Board Approves Shorter Standardized Tests – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)
By Shawna De La Rosa
Prior to Blew’s remarks, some states had already started seeking assessment waivers for the upcoming school year. On June 18, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced they would seek a standardized testing waiver, saying high-stakes testing would be “counterproductive.” South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan are among states that made similar pushes.
Recent recommendations by the NWEA, a nonprofit assessment provider, include suggestions to use two years of assessment data to measure student growth rather than a single year and to rethink how assessments are used and implemented overall. The association also suggested the U.S. Department of Education should change tests to reflect the new role of distance and hybrid learning, and provide targeted flexibilities in accountability for states rather than blanket testing waivers.
Source: Ed Dept official: Don’t expect testing waivers this year | Education Dive
By Richard Bammer
California public schools chief Tony Thurmond on Friday said the state Department of Education received a preliminary federal OK to waive assessment and accountability requirements for the 2019–2020 school year.
His department and the State Board of Education formally requested approval for the waivers from the U.S. Department of Education in a letter sent Thursday. Formal approval is expected in the coming weeks, Thurmond noted in a press release.
Source: Coronavirus: CDE gets prelim fed OK to waive testing, school accountability – The Reporter
By Sydney Johnson
At a time when California is placing a greater emphasis on science education, most students did not score at a proficient level on the state’s new science test, with scores especially low among several student groups.
The results of the test were released this week. They represent the first scores on the California Science Test, a new test developed by the California Department of Education, to measure progress on the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by California in 2013.
Source: Less than a third of California students met or exceeded standards on new science test – Times-Herald
By Courtney Lee and Jacob Jackson
In California and across the nation, there has been a growing focus on increasing college access by improving college readiness for high school students and encouraging more eligible students to attend college. To this end, many states and educational institutions have changed how they use college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.
One approach has been to have more students take the SAT or ACT in hopes of identifying those who are eligible for college but might not have taken a college entrance exam on their own. As of 2016–17, 25 states use the SAT or ACT as their standardized test for 11th graders.
Assemblymember O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) has proposed AB 1951, which would give districts the option to use the SAT or ACT in place of California’s 11th-grade standardized test. Though Governor Brown vetoed the bill at the end of the 2017–18 legislative session, O’Donnell promised to bring it back in the next session, when California has a new governor.
Source: Standardized Testing and College Eligibility – Public Policy Institute of California
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.
Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards (Table 1), a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards (Table 2), a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.
This is the fourth year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.
Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.
Source: CAASPP Test Scores Released – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
California and Vacaville-area public school students generally boosted their scores in English and math on the state’s major 2018 standardized test, education leaders in Sacramento announced today.
Results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) indicated more gains from those made in 2017, state schools chief Tom Torlakson said during a morning press conference.
Statewide, in all tested grades — three through eight and 11 — nearly 50 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards, a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a nearly 6 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, nearly 39 percent of students met or exceeded standards, a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a nearly 5.7 percentage point increase from 2015.
Source: California, local students post gains on major state test – The Reporter
By Nick Morrison
Schools have been accused of pushing out students with low levels of achievement, in a practice where the students become the victims of a high-stakes testing regime.
School inspectors have identified 19,000 students who left their publicly-funded school shortly before crucial public examinations.
And while around half of those moved to another state-funded school, around half did not, and simply vanished from school registers.
Some may have moved into fee-paying schools, but with no information on their destination, the likelihood is that many will have effectively left education altogether.
Source: Departing Students Are Victims Of High-Stakes Testing
By Nick Morrison
Selective education has had its reputation demolished as new research busts the myth that school selection boosts exam results.
A new study shows that the difference in results between selective and non-selective schools owes more to their students’ genes than to the quality of education the schools offer.
Analysis of thousands of student records found that selective schools added very little value, and that their students did no better than they would have at a non-selective school.The findings blow a hole in the case for selection, which has been a touchstone issue for some in education for more than 40 years.
Source: Busted: The Myth That School Selection Boosts Exam Results
By Willard Dix
If you’ve never had the pleasure of arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or if you can’t get enough of graphs, charts, tables, endnotes and obscure equations, you might try reading Measuring Success: Testing, Grades, and the Future of College Admissions, edited by Jack Buckley, Lynn Letukas and Ben Wildavsky. It’s a collection of eleven papers purporting to debate the value of standardized testing in the college admission process. After reading it, one might reasonably ask what the point of the exercise was, since it appears the “debate” had a foregone conclusion.
Let’s first stipulate that this book is not for the general reader, but for the theologians and alchemists of the testing and admission industries comfortable with magical symbols and runes designed to communicate the secrets of the order to each other. If you are one of those people, you’ll find plenty to enjoy, and more power to you. But you won’t find anything conclusive to answer the question of whether standardized testing is valuable or not, either.
Source: New Book Keeps Thumb On SAT Side Of Standardized Testing Debate
By Richard Bammer
It is, perhaps, one of the best college tuition deals in the nation and it is available to Vacaville high school students.
Parent informational meetings about Vacaville Early College High School, or VECHS for short, are set for 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at Vaca Pena Middle School, at 200 Keith Way; and at 6 p.m. March 6 at Jepson Middle School, 580 Elder St.
Each presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. For more information about VECHS and the enrollment process, visit https://vechs-vusd-ca.schoolloop.com.
Vacaville Unified officials are accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year, with an application deadline of March 29.
Applications also may be picked up at the Vaca Pena or Jepson counseling offices or at the district’s Educational Services Center, 401 Nut Tree Road.
Source: Parent info meetings set for Early College High School program
A biennial report about Alamo Elementary, accountability “local indicators,” and several large contracts are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.
Derek Wickliff, principal of Alamo Elementary, will present the report about the South Orchard Avenue campus. He will touch on a variety of topics. They include the school’s music program; recent past events; data from the California Dashboard, the state’s new schools accountability system, with statistics about suspension rates, English learner progress, and results from the 2017 state standardized tests; and attendance.
A district staff member will present information about local indicators from the Dashboard. They include basic services, the carrying-out of academic standards, parent engagement and school climate.
Through this accountability system, each California school district and charter school is required to provide a “narrative,” complete a rating scale, or use survey results to determine progress.
Source: Vacaville Unified leaders to discuss Measure A contracts
By John Fensterwald
Citing methodology flaws, the State Board of Education on Wednesday revised criteria for rating performance on standardized test scores on the new color-coded California School Dashboard. The unanimous decision will reduce the number of districts and schools rated red, the lowest performing of the five color categories, but board members and state administrators insisted that was not the motivating factor (see previous story).
“It would be worse to do nothing; that would undermine credibility (of the system) and create more volatility” in test score ratings, said board member Ilene Straus, who monitors school improvement and accountability issues for the board.
The fix — which was proposed by a technical group of advisers to the California State Department of Education — was in response to what would otherwise be a big fluctuation in school and district color designations on the “academic” indicator, which includes test scores, on the school dashboard.
Source: State board alters criteria for rating school performance on new state dashboard | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
An update on state standardized tests and the use of project labor agreements, or PLAs, on Measure A projects are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified board members meet tonight in Vacaville.
Kelley Birch, director of secondary education, and Ryan Galles, director of elementary education, will lead the presentation, an overview, of the 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, including updates and changes for the 2017-18 academic year. The all-computerized tests are given every spring to students in grades three to eight and 11. They are meant to gauge what students know at each grade level under the California State Standards.
Among others things, Birch and Galles will note all the tests included in the CAASSP battery of assessments: Smarter Balanced (for English and mathematics); the California Science Test (for grades five, eight and at least once in high school); and California Alternative Assessments, or Cal Alt (for students with the most severe disabilities).
Source: Vacaville Unified agenda: Overview of state standardized tests and PLAs
By Nick Sestanovich
Benicia Unified School District outlined positive highlights and areas for improvement when data from the most recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was presented at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.
The SBAC was initiated in 2015 and replaced the previous California Standards Test following the state’s shift to Common Core practices. The statewide assessment is given to all students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in the areas of math and English Language Arts (ELA). According to Dr. Leslie Beatson, BUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services, the test is taken on a computer and quizzes students in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, short answer, constructed response and performance test. The test also utilizes a concept called universal design where accommodations such as enlarged text or Individualized Education Program arrangements for special education students can be built in.
Source: BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results