Ending a months long standoff between federal and state officials, the U.S. Department of Education on Friday told California education officials they approve of the state’s plan to administer only portions of new standardized tests this year - and not reporting the results.
In a letter to the California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and President of the State Board of Education, U.S. Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle granted a one-year waiver to seven federal testing requirements.
“I hope you find this flexibility helpful,” Delisle wrote.
It’s an about face from the department’s position last September, when U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan threatened to withhold as much as $3 billion in federal education funding, saying the state's plan to limit testing and keep results secret violated federal law.
The new tests are part of a shift by most states to new learning standards known as the Common Core. To measure how well students are learning the new standards, California joined a group of 23 states to create new standardized tests that would be administered by computer instead of paper and pencil.
That major shift in technology and content prompted California officials to phase in the tests by offering partial testing this year and not making the scores public.
California lawmakers have given schools $1.25 billion dollars to prepare for the tests. The testing window for the Smarter Balanced tests in California is March 18 to June 6.