New Testing Unveiled for California Schools Would Reduce STAR Testing

The state superintendent's plan would emphasize critical thinking skills. Some STAR testing may be suspended. Do you think this is a move in the right direction?

In the near future, California students will be thinking a lot more and filling in fewer bubbles when they take standardized statewide tests.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, state Superintendent Tom Torlakson  unveiled a new testing system for schools statewide.

The new tests follow the guidelines set forth in the Common Core State Standards. Those recommendations were put together last year by a task force that studied new testing methods under a mandate by the state Legislature.

If approved by state legislators, the new testing system would begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

The superintendent is planning to suspend STAR Program assessments for the coming school year unless the exams are specifically mandated by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or used for the Early Assessment Program (EAP).

This change would suspend STAR testing of second-graders and end-of-course exams at the high school level.

Torlakson said the current testing system has improved student learning throughout the state, but it's time to move to a different kind of assessment.

"We're moving to a new dimension - a higher dimension," said Torlakson.

Torlakson has made a dozen recommendations to the legislature for the Statewide Pupil Assessment System.

One of the keys is to move away from memorization of knowledge and focus more on students' critical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving.

State leaders said the new tests will measure the ability of students to understand and use what they have learned.

"Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore, and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career, and for college," Torlakson said.

What do you think? Should the state testing system be revamped? Should we leave it alone? Should we be doing statewide testing at all? Tell us in comments.


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Michael Craig January 11, 2013 at 06:55 PM
By "real world" does Torlakson believe there is NO memorization or things people just have to know? The real world has facts that have to be known especially in careers like Science and Math in which American are ranked somewhere around 27th in the world. In the real world 6x7=42 but many CA High School Grads I have met don't know that and told me that they were not told to memorize it! Our kids don't even know their times tables after High School?! The answer sadly it seems-is YES. In the "PC" world "critical thinking" sounds wonderful but when American students were given Math Tests compared to Asian students and each were asked how they felt they did-American students were all very confident that they had high scores versus the Asians who were much more subdued and thought they did OK. The results-The Asians scored very highly most above 85% and the Americans who"felt great" did poorly with scores with most below 70%. The real world is full of "critical thinkers" that don't seem to know anything. Can't we teach students to KNOW things first and THEN with that knowledge use it in critical thinking to come up with a thesis? Over the past 50+ years many "new", "higher dimension" techniques have come into U.S. Education system but our scores have gone progressively downward over the years and more and more skilled laborers in IT, Science, and Technology have to be brought into US from China, India, etc because we are NOT teaching them here. Let's get back the the 3 R's!
John Foley January 29, 2013 at 04:19 PM
This new testing mechanism is a ploy to pad results. It is all a game. RCSD has some of the most abysmal scores at some sites so why not change the test!? Then Jesus and Trayvon will feel good about themselves although they can't read at grade level nor cipher! They will feel good!


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