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Test Scores Will Matter Less for a School’s Fate… In Four Years

Hillel Aron | September 27, 2012

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Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure (SB 1458) which curtails the role of test scores in calculating a school’s Academic Performance Index (or API). Right now, API scores are based solely on student test scores, and can have enormous consequences for a school. A low API score can eventually lead to its management being replaced and its governance structure being changed.

Under the new law, supported by LAUSD and an array of business groups, student test scores will account for no more than 60% of high school API scores, leaving room for other factors in assessing a school’s success. The new API won’t start until 2016. Senate majority leader Darrell Steinberg, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement:

“For years, ‘teaching to the test’ has become more than a worn cliche because 100% of the API relied on bubble tests scores in limited subject areas. But life is not a bubble test and that system has failed our kids. By balancing testing with factors like graduation rates, and measuring how prepared our students are for entering college and the workforce, SB 1458 will spur the system into delivering higher quality education combining real-world relevance and academic rigor.”

So what will comprise the other 40% of API scores? The bill leaves that up to the State Board of Education, although it could include graduation and dropout rates, Advanced Placement test scores, and the number of students moving on to four-year universities.

Over at Ed Source, John Fensterwald writes:

“SB 1458 reflected widespread frustration that the heavy weight given to multiple-choice reading and math exams was narrowing the focus on what was taught, encouraged weeks of test prep, and distorted priorities, with science, the arts, and vocational and career tech programs given short shrift. That’s why SB 1458 had strong support in the business community, with regional workforce organizations and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association among those behind it.”

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