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  • Monday, September 16, 2013


    AB 484 passes State Senate-goes to Brown

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD
    State Senate votes to approve AB 484-bill goes to Brown

     On Monday September 16th, less than a week after the Democratic Party super-majority California State Senate amended and passed Assembly Bill 484 by a 26 to 7 vote (6 absenting) , the California State Assembly super-majority voted 55-16 to pass the bill and sent it to Governor Brown for his signature. 

    AB 484 would end most of the California Standardized testing in preparation for a new testing system in 2 years.

    Brown, who has indicated he would sign AB 484, has until October 13th to sign the bill into law.

    The original AB 484 was authored by Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and sponsored  by the California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  After passage by the Assembly  today, Assemblywomen Bonilla's office issued this statement:

    "We can't delay our students' progress and their workforce readiness, just because we are not up to the challenge of facing a difficult obstacle, This is the right educational policy at the right time, and California is the right state to lead this way forward."

    "AB 484 eliminates outdated tests and allows students and teachers to be better prepared for the new computer based assessments aligned to the common core standards. This bill is essential in giving students and teachers more time in the classroom for valuable instruction instead of obsolete tests."

    However, the goal of a state-wide paperless test  faces huge technological, infrastructure and scheduling logistics that make the roll out of a paper-less computer test in two years all but impossible as currently envisioned by national Edu-crats.  The dirty little Smarter Balance secret is that while Edu-crats tout the "computer" driven test, because of the huge (mostly unspoken) obstacles that exist, a good old paper and pen version of the test is also being developed. 

    One little reported provision of the bill is the fact it allows the California State Board of Education to delay the implementation of CalMAPP for the 2014-2015 school year if the state is not ready. That scenario is almost guaranteed to happen because of the huge obstacles  to a paradigm shift in technology and logistics.

    After AB 484  is signed by Brown, the California law would end most of the current California standardized test known as the STAR tests this school year (except those required as part of the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress reports) and permanently end all STAR tests next year. Next year the bill authorizes "field testing" of a "California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress" (CalMAPP) test.  That test is currently under development to test skills and standards aligned with the Common Core Standards over 40 U.S. states have signed on to use.  In California, the testing consortium known as Smarter Balance Assessment is developing the test to be taken by students on computers. 

    The bill as written presents challenges for the Smarter Balance Edu-crats. After the fiasco of the No Child Left Behind testing regime with its fairytale goals of 2014 proficiency for all students- the AB 484 writers hedged their bets.   The provisions in AB 484 include a "poison pill".  The bill is only valid for 10 years-becoming inoperative July 1, 2024 and leave only one reporting provision in 2025. In 2026, everything under the CalMAPP would be repealed- unless "reauthorized".

    It was the required  "reauthorization" of the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law that finally rendered it obsolete as Congress became unable to satisfy any of the stakeholders involved in the failed law. While provisions of the law are still in effect, waivers and opt-outs have made NCLB ineffective and irrelevant for any meaningful purpose.

    Ending most of the California STAR testing would also end the California testing measurement called the Academic Performance Index.  It is that provision that has put the very 'blue" California state government (with Democrats in total control of the state government) at odds with the President Obama's Democratic administration- in particular with the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The divide has become a very public feud with dueling press releases over threatened federal action against California if it approves AB 464.  Last week Duncan issued this press release:

    “A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition.”

    “No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.”

    With in hours California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson responded with this press release:

     “Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

    “We look forward to the opportunity to make our case to the Administration when the time comes. When we do, we hope they agree that withholding badly needed funds from California’s students would be a grave and serious error.”

    FOR the complete text of AB 484 CLICK ON:  AB 484

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