California will not be test-free this year, but it will be test-lite. Officials from the federal government have authorized a plan that would allow California schools to opt out of the Smarter Balanced statewide assessments, which are required during regular school years. The move is intended to give teachers more time to prepare their students for the state reading and math tests.
The California Education Agency announced the decision in April. Under the new system, which goes into effect this fall, most schools will be able to choose whether they want to participate in the standardized testing process. If a school decides to go test-optional, it will be allowed to use only one of the two types of assessments offered by the federal government: the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam or the biennial California Standards Tests (CSATs).
Test scores will still be used to evaluate teachers and schools, but there will be no penalty for schools that decide not to take the assessment. The state has already begun developing alternative measures for use as replacements for the reading and mathematics portions of the SMART Test.
California was one of the first states to adopt a standardized testing program. In 1996, voters passed an initiative called "Measurement for Improvement," or MI, which created a mandatory statewide testing program for grades K-12. The goal was to improve student achievement by focusing resources on those schools and students who needed them most.
This represents around 9% of California's overall student enrolment, although state examinations are only required for children in grades three through eight and eleven. Local districts in California will be able to select whether or not to give the Smarter Balanced assessments, according to state education officials. Those that choose not to will be eligible for federal funding reserved for low-income schools.
The California Standards Tests (CSTs) have been the primary means by which students in grade nine through twelve have been assessed since 1978. The State Board of Education has approved several changes to the testing process over the years including moving from a closed-book test to an open-book format. It also approved the development of the Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2010, which replaced the previous version called STAR tests. These new assessments are designed to better measure what students know and can do rather than simply how well they can recall information.
California's current assessment system was developed in 2002 when the State Board of Education approved the California Standard Assessment Test (CSAT). This multi-subject test was intended to replace the previously used CSTs. However, due to concerns about cost effectiveness, in 2005 the board voted to continue using the CSAT but to alter its scope to include more content areas and increase the number of times it is given each year. As part of this decision, the requirement that students complete the test every year until they turn 16 was removed.
The U.S. Department of Education, on the other hand, said on Feb. The state board also agreed in February to seek a waiver to eliminate the California Science Test in 2021, to extend the time window for all examinations to July 30, and to divorce test participation requirements from any sanctions. "We are committed to ensuring that no student is denied admission to or graduates from college because of their inability to pay for the cost of attendance".
California has one of the most expensive higher education systems in the country. The number of students taking the SAT has declined by about half since its peak in 2003. In 2018, only 4 percent of 25-to-54-year-olds in California had achieved an annual income of $1 million or more, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In addition to the SAT and ACT, which are administered across the country, California requires students to take the CSET to graduate from high school. The test was developed by the College Board and is used by many colleges and universities to select applicants. It covers biology, chemistry, physics, and technology courses required for graduation.
The decision by the California State Board of Education to cancel the science test comes after several large university systems announced plans to cancel classes this spring due to concerns about spreading coronavirus.
States are mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to give annual standardized exams in reading and math for children in grades 3–8 and once in high school, and California administers the Smarter Balanced tests every spring to comply with that legislation. The test is required of all students in those grades, with the exception of those who attend private schools or cybercafes that do not offer the full curriculum required by their local district. Students in 9th grade can opt out of taking the test.
The California Standards Test (CST) is given in grades 10 through 12 and measures how well students know their state standards. There is also an end-of-course assessment called the Graduation Questionnaire that schools use to collect data on how successful their programs are at getting students across the state completing their courses work-based requirements for graduation.
These assessments are used by educators to make changes to improve instruction, develop new programs, and track student progress over time. The information gathered from these surveys is kept confidential and cannot be made public.
California's current testing regime was established by Proposition 39, which was passed by voters in 2008. The initiative created the California Standard Assessment Program (CSAP), which is designed to measure how well students are doing in terms of learning statewide benchmarks of knowledge and skills.