Press Release

National and State Organizations Respond to Elimination of Public Transparency on Student Academic Performance by CA Leaders

Publication date: Oct 29, 2013

Support Obama Administration’s Efforts to Protect the Rights of Students, Parents and Educators

OAKLAND, CA (October 29, 2013) – As national and state organizations advocating on behalf of parents, teachers, students and communities, we believe that California’’s leaders are violating the rights of parents and educators to receive critical information on the academic progress of more than four million students. Governor Brown’’s signing of Assembly Bill 484 into law represents a dramatic step backward in public transparency for student academic results. It is also a clear violation of important federal protections for our most vulnerable student populations, including our state’’s approximately 1.3 million English Learners and 650,000 students with disabilities. We believe that the Obama administration’’s response to AB 484 is an important first step in protecting the rights of students and parents.

As a result of AB 484, parents, students and educators will not receive any objective information on their children’s grade-level performance in English Language Arts and Mathematics for an indeterminate length of time. Parents and teachers of English Learners and students with disabilities will lose vital information necessary to assess English proficiency and progress in the general education curriculum. Teachers will lose critical information on student academic progress in transition grades such as third grade. Furthermore, AB 484 jeopardizes the ability of parents to ensure that their children have access to the fundamental right of a basic education and equitable opportunity to learn guaranteed by the California Constitution.

It is especially unfortunate that state leaders are portraying their decision to suspend public transparency on student outcomes as a way to transition to the Common Core State Standards and assessments. While their decision to expand the use of the new Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced assessments into all schools has merit, we are deeply concerned by their failure to fund the full cost of these assessments or provide any results to educators and parents. In fact, under the AB 484 plan, hundreds of thousands of tests will never be scored. Students should not spend hours of their time taking tests for no reason. Educators should get the results of any assessment that their students take. Parents should know how their children performed on tests purchased with their tax dollars. Districts and schools should know how well they are performing in implementing the Common Core State Standards and assessments. And the public has a right to know how well their schools and districts performed in implementing a new testing system funded by public dollars.

To truly facilitate a transition to the Common Core, state leaders should engage in a transparent and open process that continues to provide vital information on student academic performance to parents, educators and communities. We call on California state leaders to fund the full costs of providing both the English and Math Smarter Balanced assessments for school districts, ensure the necessary supports and accommodations for students and fund the analysis required to offer the results of these tests to parents, teachers, and education leaders. For those districts that cannot provide the Smarter Balanced assessments because of a lack of technical capacity, we call on the state to fund the STAR assessment or a Common Core aligned summative assessment selected by the school district.

Over the last several months, many of us have advocated for state leaders, including Governor Brown, to make these crucial investments. Unfortunately, state leaders have failed to act and have given no indication that they will reconsider their current stance. Given the stakes for California’’s most vulnerable student populations, we strongly support President Obama and Secretary Duncan’’s efforts to protect the rights of students and to provide parents and educators with objective, annual information on student academic progress, including information on the academic achievement of student subgroups. When a state such as California blatantly violates the rights of children and parents, the federal government should intervene and send a strong signal that the state’’s actions are unacceptable and must be reversed.

 

Ben Austin
Executive Director, Parent Revolution

Maureen Graves
Co-Chair, California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy

Kati Haycock
President, The Education Trust

John Lee
Executive Director, Teach Plus Los Angeles

Bill Lucia
President & CEO, EdVoice

Ama Nyamekye
Executive Director, Educators4Excellence Los Angeles

Arun Ramanathan
Executive Director, The Education Trust—West

Angelica Solis
Executive Director, Alliance for a Better Community

James H. Wendorf
Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities

James H. Wendorf
Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities

Joe Williams
Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform