New testing on the way for California public schools

Common Core State StandardsSchools in California are heading into a shake-up of their student-testing procedures as the sate phases out the Standardized Testing and Reporting System (STAR) and ushers in Common Core State Standards Initiative, a new method of measuring student performance. During the 2013-2014 academic year, schools will have the option of giving STAR tests, which calculate a school’s Academic Performance Index (API), or using the new Common Core testing system.  By 2014-2015, all schools will use Common Core testing.

The new exams are called the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), and some school districts including Pacific Grove Unified, Carmel Unified and Salinas Union High have already begun experimenting with them.  MAPP exams focus more heavily than STAR tests on students’ analytical abilities and will be given on computers.

This presents a challenge to school districts that don’t have a sufficient number of computers to make testing of all their students a convenient process.  To ease the burden, the state will give schools more time to complete the yearly exams, and for the first few years, students will be able to take paper versions of the test.  Grant money will likely be available for schools needing to increase their stock of computers.

Common Core State Standards will assess students’ proficiency in mathematics and English.  The new testing platform gives teachers a clear understanding of the disciplines students need to learn and offers a roadmap during the academic year so that teachers and parents can make sure children are on track.

According to the Common Core State Standards website, the standards have been developed in a way that makes them “relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

In Silicon Valley overall, our schools have consistently presented excellent educational opportunities to students.  A number of our fine schools were named 2013 California Distinguished Schools last academic year.  Even more have earned Great Schools top ranking of a perfect 10, based on test scores.

What will Common Core State Standards mean for our students?  We expect the new testing program to result in even higher academic achievement and a more powerful way for getting students ready for life in the real world, arming them for success in our global economy.