Common Core Wins in California

SACRAMENTO (KRON) — When California’s school accountability system went against the state’s new Common Core standard, Common Core came out as the victor.

At a meeting in Sacramento, the state’s Board of Education decided to suspend its Academic Performance Index for the current school year.

Board members are hopeful this decision will give teachers and students time to acclimate themselves to the new Common Core testing style.

The API is used to rank schools on a statewide level in order to identify schools in need of improvement.

Board President Michael Kirst said measuring student growth, not just a baseline performance is the goal of the new Smarter Balanced tests.

Common Core testing has been adopted by all but seven states.

As the new testing standards near, Common Core has come under fire by conservatives.

Many conservatives believe they are a federal infringement on school policy.

That hasn’t been an issue in California, where Common Core standards have generally been supported by district leaders, parents and teacher unions.

The Board of Education’s decision means that test results won’t be used on the state index, but they will still be reported at the school, district and state level.

“They’ll be held accountable to the public,” Kirst said.

The move pleases many school districts, including Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district.

“We need that next year to look at this issue of growth,” said Edgar Zarzueta, LAUSD chief of external affairs.

Suspending the state’s evaluation system means scores in the first year won’t be used to take any corrective actions.

Numerous parent, teacher and education organizations commented in favor of the delay at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We feel that accountability is very important to the public, but it’s sensible to delay because the information is not all going to be clear and solid and current and we need the transition time,” said Celia Jaffe, education commissioner of the California State PTA.

The new Common Core tests by Smarter Balanced aren’t scantron style tests.

Instead, they require either a tablet or laptop to be taken.

This proved problematic for LAUSD, where crashed websites and slow connectivity made taking the tests hard.

LAUSD says that problem has now been solved.

The tests are currently being given in 94 LAUSD schools, with no major issues being reported.

Common Core testing will evaluate students in grades three through eight, as well as in their junior year of high school, testing them in English-language arts and math.

Rather than offering multiple choice, Common Core testing asks students to apply what they have learned in school to formulate their own answer.

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