California State schools superintendent Tom Torlakson wants to revamp statewide standardized testing; instead of memorization driven, multiple-choice bubble exams, the proposed tests would assess critical thinking, problem solving, and essay writing skills.
Torlakson said the new test would be implemented in the 2014-15 school year at the same time as the state adopts national Common Core curriculum and phases out the current STAR testing program.
“We’ve been asking our kids to master new skills and so the assessments must change, too,” said Torlakson.
It will take more than a year to implement, so Torlakson is recommending suspending most tests not required by the federal government starting next year. This would put a moratorium on STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course-exams at the state level.
In addition to releasing state Academic Performance Index numbers on Thursday, the California Department of Education is also debuting an easy-to-read School Quality Snapshot
It’s a brightly-colored report – full of graphs and pie charts – designed to simplify and aggregate key information about a school in one place.
Deb Sigman, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the purpose of the snapshot is to gather a set of data that would have previously required parents to visit multiple websites to compile.
She added: “This will be a great tool for schools and districts to use as they communicate to their communities and their staffs about the performance of their schools.”
The focal point of the report is the Academic Performance Index – or API – but the two-page report goes well beyond that.