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New Testing Unveiled for California Schools Would Reduce STAR Testing

The state superintendent's plan would emphasize critical thinking skills. Some STAR testing may be suspended. Do you think this is a move in the right direction?

In the near future, California students will be thinking a lot more and filling in fewer bubbles when they take standardized statewide tests.

At a news conference last week, state Superintendent Tom Torlakson  unveiled a new testing system for schools statewide.

The new tests follow the guidelines set forth in the Common Core State Standards. Those recommendations were put together last year by a task force that studied new testing methods under a mandate by the state Legislature.

If approved by state legislators, the new testing system would begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

The superintendent is planning to suspend STAR Program assessments for the coming school year unless the exams are specifically mandated by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or used for the Early Assessment Program (EAP).

This change would suspend STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course exams at the high school level.

Torlakson said the current testing system has improved student learning throughout the state, but it's time to move to a different kind of assessment.

“We're moving to a new dimension, a higher dimension,” said Torlakson.

Torlakson has made a dozen recommendations to the legislature for the Statewide Pupil Assessment System.

One of the keys is to move away from memorization of knowledge and focus more on students' critical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving.

State leaders said the new tests will measure the ability of students to understand and use what they have learned.

“Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college,” said Torlakson.

What do you think? Should the state testing system be revamped? Should we leave it alone? Should we be doing statewide testing at all? Tell us in comments.

Raul Marquez January 15, 2013 at 07:18 PM
oh great, instead of asking "what is 2+2?", they are going to ask, "How do you feel about 2+2?". Another step towards raising entitled morons rather than good citizens.
Dan O'Brien January 15, 2013 at 08:09 PM
@ Raul, that's not the way I consider critical thinking to be. To me, it's more like when you get a multiple choice question, "What is the elevation of Mount Everest?" and your choices are, A) 13 feet B) 29,029 feet C) 10 miles D) 15,200 feet Now, I don't know the exact elevation of Mount Everest, but I have the critical thinking skills to deduct that it isn't A, C or D. That is what many believe our children are lacking in education: The ability to figure stuff out. When you're on the job or with life in general, you usually don't succeed by memorizing things; your success is based on problem solving - and many believe good problem solvers are also good critical thinkers.
Claudia Vizcarra January 19, 2013 at 04:49 AM
My understanding is that the new common core assessments, known as new generation assessments, will require students to demonstrate a greater depth of knowledge than current state tests. Students will have to apply their knowledge to real life situations, work in interdisciplinary situations, demonstrate that they can use technology effectively.

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