Education

State board votes to suspend school accountability based on new tests

In this Feb. 12, 2015 file photo, Yamarko Brown, age 12, works on math problems as part of a trial run of a new state assessment test — linked to the Common Core standards — at Annapolis Middle School in Annapolis, Md. The California Board of Education is expected to decide Wednesday, March 11, 2015, whether or not schools should be held accountable on the state's own performance index for student results in the new Common Core-aligned assessments.
In this Feb. 12, 2015 file photo, Yamarko Brown, age 12, works on math problems as part of a trial run of a new state assessment test — linked to the Common Core standards — at Annapolis Middle School in Annapolis, Md. The California Board of Education is expected to decide Wednesday, March 11, 2015, whether or not schools should be held accountable on the state's own performance index for student results in the new Common Core-aligned assessments.
Patrick Semansky/AP

The California Board of Education has suspended the state's school accountability system for one year to give teachers and students time to adjust to new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core standards.

The board voted at a meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday not to produce an Academic Performance Index for the 2014-15 school year. The index uses student results on statewide tests to rank schools and to identify those that need improvement.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says it wouldn't be fair to evaluate schools on this year's scores because the new tests are too different from the state's previous tests to produce meaningful comparisons.

Board President Michael Kirst says results will still be reported at the school, district and state level for the public to see.

Several districts, including Los Angeles Unified, the nation's second-largest, had requested that this year's statewide assessments not be used for accountability purposes. They argued that students have not had enough time to practice on the testing devices. The tests are required to be taken on a computer or tablet.

At LA Unified, there were numerous problems when a practice test was administered, including the website crashing and slow connectivity. Officials said Tuesday there were no major issues.

The tests evaluate students in grades three through eight and 11 in Common Core-aligned English-language arts and math.

The Common Core benchmarks adopted by a majority of states around the nation have come under fire in recent years, largely from conservatives who decry them as a federal infringement on school policy. The standards were approved for implementation by individual states, though the U.S. Department of Education encouraged their adoption through initiatives like Race to the Top.

In California, by contrast, the standards have been largely embraced by district leaders, parents and teacher unions. 

This story has been updated.