Jerry Brown Stands Up to Arne Duncan

Governor said he supports a transitional curriculum year without mandatory testing

by Brian Leubitz

School “reformers” in DC really love testing. Looooooovvvve it. Testing for good reasons. Testing for bad reasons. Testing to see what kids know of the subject matter. Testing to see how well kids can take a test.

But with the change to the new “Common Core” curriculum, the designers of the California STAR tests haven’t been able to keep up. The new tests that teach to the new curriculum won’t be available until next school year. So, no reasonable person would be pushing testing on an old curriculum, right?

Well, see the first paragraph. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, really loves testing. Loves it so much that he wants the STAR tests to continue, despite the fact that our students are being taught different material. Asm. Bonilla’s AB 484 would allow school districts to opt out of the testing for a year while the curriculum changes. It would also set up an opt-in program for computerized testing for the common core standards.

Really, testing for the current curriculum seems quite simple, but it never is. That being said, it looks like the Governor is undeterred by DoE threats to hold back money:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said California’s request for a one-year reprieve from using STAR tests in math and English for the current school year is unacceptable and may force his department to “take action.”

“No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing,” Duncan said in a statement Monday night. …

“There is no reason to double-test students using outdated, ineffective standards disconnected from what’s taught in the classroom,” (Brown spokesman Jim) Evans added.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is sponsoring Bonilla’s bill, was in the Capitol on Tuesday talking to lawmakers about the importance of AB 484. The former legislator said it is a better investment to redirect the $25 million used to give the outdated STAR tests to instead allow more students to try new computer-based assessments.

“I’m disappointed someone in Washington would want to interfere in the legislative process in California,” (SSPI) Torlakson told The Bee. (SacBee)

Look, the testing will be back next year. But can’t we just agree that we should be testing on what we are teaching our students? Will one year really make or break the whole system?

2 thoughts on “Jerry Brown Stands Up to Arne Duncan”

  1. No, we should not be testing on what we are teaching.  We should be testing on what students should know at different stages, i.e., what we should be teaching.  If Texas tests on knowledge of, say, creation science and the contribution of Phyllis Schlafly to America, are they really getting a good idea of those students’ knowledge?

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