Press Release

OAKLAND, CA (September 9, 2013) – The Education Trust-West issued the following statement in response to AB 484 and State Board request for a federal waiver:

“”The Education Trust-West strongly opposes the effort to suspend all public transparency on student, school and district performance in math, English language arts and other academic subjects proposed by the California State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblymember Susan Bonilla.

We have consistently supported California’’s shift to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) and have applauded efforts by the Governor, Legislature, Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Board to support this transition. We believe that the state should thoughtfully accelerate its shift to the CCSS and SBAC assessments and avoid duplicate testing of individual students. However, that shift should not come at the expense of public transparency about student academic performance. The language of Assembly Bill 484 (Bonilla) sponsored by the California Department of Education and the federal testing waiver request from the State Board of Education could result in two years where California citizens will lose critical information on student academic outcomes. These proposals would eliminate a host of important assessments not connected to the Common Core. It also fails to fully fund the SBAC assessments, including federally required tests in math and English language arts in grades 3-8 and grade 11. This plan has the potential to undermine public trust in our standardized assessment system at a critical transition point as parents and home owners lose all information on the academic quality of their local public schools. 

The request by the State Board of Education and the language of AB 484 to use the Smarter Balanced computer adaptive assessments in every school without fully funding these assessments or providing the results to parents, teachers and school leaders is simply irresponsible. First, many schools are not equipped to provide these computer-based assessments. This will not only result in the complete loss of information on the academic performance of large groups of students, but also result in students in more technologically adept school districts getting a head start on SBAC while others are left behind. Second, there is no justification for the failure to provide the results of assessments funded by taxpayer dollars to parents, educators and the public at large. On a practical level, this proposal will mean that teachers and parents will lose vital information on student performance necessary to determine special education eligibility and English Language Learner re-classification. Further, millions of parents will not receive the results from the academic testing of their children, even if they request this information.

In light of these consequences for students, parents, and educators, we call on the Obama administration to reject California’’s testing waiver request unless the state commits to fully funding assessments in all schools and required grades and providing the results to educators, parents and the public at large. We urge the Superintendent, State Board of Education and Assemblymember to revise their approach and commit to broad public transparency on student outcomes.  We similarly urge the Legislature to reject the current version of AB 484.

According to the results of a poll recently released by PACE/USC, large majorities of Californians support our current system of standardized assessment and accountability and are unaware of the Common Core or the Smarter Balanced assessments. Given these results, it is vital that state leaders engage in a transparent and open process in our transition to the Common Core that continues to provide vital information on academic performance to parents, communities and educators. The Education Trust-West will continue to work with state and local leaders to support a thoughtful and transparent transition to these powerful new standards and assessments.””

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About The Education Trust——West
The Education Trust——West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.