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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,” said Torlakson.

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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C pridmore January 09, 2013 at 04:10 PM
I say get ride of it ! So much pressure on the kids not to mention they spend close to a1/4 of the year preparing for the test. They should consider getting rid of a lot father classes that they require. I took Algebra ,was very frustrated with it in school and thinking about it today makes my stomach turn. A lot of stress,for what ? I have NEVER used algebra in my life and I have run my wn business for 28 yrs. wish they would have offered me something like banking or money management ,I could go on and on. How about cooking and or home making ?
Tom Ontis January 09, 2013 at 05:30 PM
As a rertired teacher, who gave thousands of those tests over my 20 year career, I applaud the demise of the 'fill in the bubble' test. I did a mini-unit/lesson every year on critical thinking and how to write questions/statments and how to respond. (I've always preferred the term respond, rather than answer, because in the social sciences, there is more than a black or white answer. Two challenges await: Teachers beng prepared to teach CT skills and the technology being available to administer tests. Most of the schools I taught in have computer labs, but there are some, especially those in remote areas that do not have a lab with computers. And, who is going to write these teats?

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