New school testing system may affect federal funding

If signed by the Governor, AB 484 will overthrow STAR testing. State lawmakers say the new testing system prepares California students for the future.
BAKERSFIELD, CA. -- California schools may see a dip in funds.

"There was a threat from the Department of Education to withhold money. We don't appreciate threats from the Federal Government," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

California lawmakers are going forward with a new state testing plan, throwing out STAR testing. The Obama Administration are threatening to withhold federal funds if the new plan is adopted. Torlakson says Washington should stay out of it.

"It's disappointing that someone in Washington would see fit to interfere with our California legislature. Our legislature is elected to make these decisions to do what's best for the students of California," Torlakson said. 

The bill, AB 484, would test on the common core standards. The standards focus on problem solving instead of memorization. The State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards for English, language arts and math in 2010. Kern County schools recently began enacting the new teaching methods in local classrooms. Under the new testing plan, test scores will not be released this year because it's still in a trial period. In order to receive federal education funding, the state would need to submit scores.

"But it's also getting schools used to using computers to take the test. It's also testing the questions in the test. The different problems that are going to be solved. So, it's a trial run and so there won't be any valid scores that could come out of that because it is a test of the test itself, Torlakson said.  

Some federal officials oppose the new testing provisions. They believe not sharing scores for millions of students is the wrong way to go and say the transition could have been done by testing students on both systems.

"We are all for accountability. We're all for measuring student's success. Why double test when one test is good enough? Now, it is a test of the test. So, it's not only getting students used to the new type of questions but it's also getting schools used to computers to take the test," Torlakson said.

AB 484 is now making its way to the Governor's desk.
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