By Vanessa Castañeda and Lindsey Hickman
Students in California’s public schools no
longer have to take the infamous exit exam called the STAR test.
Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Tuesday that upgrades the state’s educational standards with the aid of modern technology.
AB484, authored by Assemblywoman
Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord),
facilitates the creation of a roadmap that will enable educators to determine
how much knowledge students are absorbing and adjust their lesson plans
"This is one of the most important and revolutionary changes to education policy, and California is the right state to lead the way," Bonilla said in a statement. "With this new law, our schools can move away from outdated STAR tests and prepare students and teachers for better assessments that reflect the real world knowledge needed for young people to succeed in college and careers,” she added.
The bill creates a new system called
the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress, which sets
new learning targets for educators to reach based on grade levels.
A major difference in the new system is that schools will test students with an adaptive exam that is similar to the GRE test and conducted on a computer. When a student answers a question, the program will increase or decrease the difficulty level of the test to more accurately assess the student’s grasp of a concept.
Since 2010, 45 out of 50 states have
adopted the Common Core
Standards, which essentially streamline expectations for students
According to the Dixon Tribune, DUSD was allocated $707,400 and Dixon Montessori Charter School was given $72,400 in support of the shift to the Common Core academic standards. The funds are to train teachers, buy new materials, and purchase technology to help schools adapt to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which are designed to provide all students with the deeper learning, critical thinking, and other skills they need to prepare for college and a career.
The legislation says that the new MAPP will “enable pupils to learn about their readiness for college-level English and mathematics before their senior year of high school.” One of the endeavor's implicit goals is for students in public schools to obtain skills necessary to be competitive in a 21st century job market, such as the ability to interact with computers.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded
the endeavor on Thursday.
"Faced with the choice of preparing California's children for the future or continuing to cling to outdated policies of the past, our state's leaders worked together and made the right choice for our students," Torlakson said. "These new assessments represent a challenge for our education system—but a lifetime of opportunity for students. As a teacher, I'm thrilled to see our state and our schools once again leading the way."
Dixon Unified School District Board Member elect, Caitlin O’Halloran, told Patch that as long as parents are working closely with teachers to monitor academic progress this year, the lack of standardized test scores for a single year shouldn't be a game changer in terms of parents understanding their students academic competency. She says, “Overall, I think this new approach will give teachers more time to complete the transition to Common Core and it will give students a chance be evaluated using a test that is designed to measure what they've learned - those are both positives.”
More than half of the Dixon schools fell below the State performance testing goal of 800 in 2012-2013, and the impact this will have on a school's Academic Performance Index score is being assessed.
According to the CA Department of Education, parents and guardians are crucial partners in laying the groundwork for a smooth transition to the new standards. Parents and guardians can:
- Learn about the CCSS and the district’s transition plan.
- Talk to the principal about the school’s plans for the transition to learn what will be different about these new standards and what will remain the same for children.
- Attend a board and/or community meeting to discuss district goals and timelines.
- Meet with your child’s teacher to discuss what your child will be learning over the coming year and how classroom instruction will shift to align to the CCSS.
- Play an active role in your child’s education at home. If you notice your child is struggling in a certain area, consult with his or her teacher to identify strategies and resources that might be helpful.
- Educate other parents about the transition to the CCSS.
- Explore opportunities to become actively involved in the Common Core transition through your state and local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).