California’s students and teachers need access to meaningful data during the transition to Common Core
Los Angeles – Teach Plus Los Angeles is strongly opposed to Assembly Bill 484 and the efforts to limit transparency on student and school performance under the bill. This approach undermines California educators’ ability to measure student progress and could result in at least two years of lost information on student academic outcomes.
We applaud the efforts to accelerate the transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the next generation of computer-adaptive assessments. Properly vetting the new Common Core-aligned assessments is a critical step toward ensuring that California children are held to high, clear and measurable expectations.
However, the language of AB 484 does not live up to the claims that it signals a commitment to the Common Core. By not fully funding the transition to the Smarter Balanced assessments or ensuring that schools are properly equipped with the technology to administer them, we face the harsh reality of losing vital information on how our students are progressing. This particularly harms students with disabilities and English language learners, as it impacts special education eligibility and services as well as English language learner re-classification. Furthermore, the public will not have access to critical data on school progress in closing the achievement gaps that persistently disadvantage our low-income and minority children.
California can ill afford to deliberately move forward with no information on student progress. Teachers need to know how their students are doing so that they can adapt their lessons to meet student needs. Parents need to know how their children are doing so that they can make informed choices. And beyond this, there are federal funding implications. The state of California could lose millions of dollars for being out of compliance with federal law. We want to see a collaborative approach that ensures that teachers and parents are not kept in the dark on student progress for at least two years. For California’s students and for the state as a whole, we need access to meaningful data during this critical transition period.
The California State Board of Education should not move forward with this approach without a clear plan to address these concerns. We urge the state to confer with testing experts and with current classroom teachers to explore the feasibility of providing scores for individual students based on the field tests. Unless we can ensure meaningful data for all students in this field testing phase, our students are better served by the original plan to field test 10 percent of students in math and 10 percent of students in English language arts and use the existing California Standards Test for everyone else.
Teach Plus is a national non-profit based in Boston whose mission is to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Teach Plus Network, and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in national, state, and district policy. Since its inception as a non-profit in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 14,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country. www.teachplus.org