Jul 26, 2014
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Should Capo Students Skip STAR Testing This Year?

While the state plans to ditch the test, the feds threaten funding. Meanwhile, CUSD trustees debate what's best for the district.

Should Capo Students Skip STAR Testing This Year?

Should students in Capistrano Unified take the standardized testing in spring just like they’ve been doing for years?

The state officials say no, and they’re battling the feds on the issue. Meanwhile, the local school board discussed it Wednesday, with one trustee suggesting Capo pay for it separately if it has to.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has been pushing hard in Sacramento to convince legislators that California school children shouldn’t have to take the Standardized Testing and Reporting  (STAR) tests this year because the state is transitioning to a new curriculum, a nationalized set of standards known as Common Core.

Torlakson refers to STAR testing as “outdated fill-in-the-bubble paper tests.”

“If we want our education system to inspire students to learn to think critically and solve problems, we need tests to match those lofty goals,” Torlakson said in a released statement.

But Capo trustees learned Wednesday those new tests are at least a year away. The 2013-14 year is considered an “exploration year” with full implementation – in English and math initially – not coming until 2014-15, said Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent of elementary schools.

Until then, Trustee Jim Reardon said the district should still offer STAR testing, whether the state provides money for it or not. He said he found the proposal to have no standardized testing this year “irresponsible.”

But Trustee Lynn Hatton said she felt just the opposite, that offering STAR tests when teachers are no longer teaching precisely to the test to be a waste of money.

“It would be extremely irresponsible to spend the money on testing on something that they’re not going to be learn,” she said.

Superintendent Joseph Farley understands Sacramento’s desire to dump the STAR.

“When we had the state standards, those standards were reflected in the STAR test. It was appropriate to teach to that test,” he said. “This school year, that’s not going to be the case. This year … some standards are going to be dropped.”

But Reardon said it could be years before new curricula jive with the Common Core in some subjects, such as chemistry and biology. Parents should still be able to assess how their children are performing in those areas.

“I can’t imagine how we’re going to understand year-over-year how we’re doing if we’re not going to be seeing how we’re doing,” Reardon said, adding that he found it “shocking” no replacement tests were ready for the 2013-14 year.

Trustee Anna Bryson agreed with Reardon. “Parents deserve to have the comparative evaluation,” she said.

Meanwhile, Trustee Amy Hanacek agreed with Hatton.

“We’ll have a year with no STAR testing. Oh my God,” she said sarcastically. She worried that if teachers don’t teach the test, making them take the STAR will only set them up for failure.

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