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No More STAR Test for Healdsburg Kids: Test Abandoned by California

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that eradicates the STAR test and brings winds of change to California's public school system.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that eradicates the STAR test and brings winds of change to California's public school system. File photo.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that eradicates the STAR test and brings winds of change to California's public school system. File photo.
By Vanessa Castañeda

Students in California’s public schools no longer have to take the infamous exit exam called the STAR test.

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Tuesday that upgrades the state’s educational standards with the aid of modern technology. 

AB484, authored by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord), facilitates the creation of a roadmap that will enable educators to determine how much knowledge students are absorbing and adjust their lesson plans accordingly. 

"This is one of the most important and revolutionary changes to education policy, and California is the right state to lead the way," Bonilla said in a statement. "With this new law, our schools can move away from outdated STAR tests and prepare students and teachers for better assessments that reflect the real world knowledge needed for young people to succeed in college and careers,” she added. 

The bill creates a new system called the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress, which sets new learning targets for educators to reach based on grade levels.  

A major difference in the new system is that schools will test students with an adaptive exam that is similar to the GRE test and conducted on a computer. When a student answers a question, the program will increase or decrease the difficulty level of the test to more accurately assess the student’s grasp of a concept.  

While students in the Menlo Park City School District have been utilizing these types of tests to measure student performance for the past three years, most public schools in California have been using the traditional paper and pencil routine. Since 2010, 45 out of 50 states have adopted the Common Core Standards, which essentially streamline expectations for students and educators.

The legislation says that the new MAPP will “enable pupils to learn about their readiness for college-level English and mathematics before their senior year of high school.” One of the endeavor's implicit goals is for students in public schools to obtain skills necessary to be competitive in a 21st century job market, such as the ability to interact with computers. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded the endeavor on Thursdsay. 

"Faced with the choice of preparing California's children for the future or continuing to cling to outdated policies of the past, our state's leaders worked together and made the right choice for our students," Torlakson said. "These new assessments represent a challenge for our education system—but a lifetime of opportunity for students. As a teacher, I'm thrilled to see our state and our schools once again leading the way."

The impact this will have on a school's Academic Performance Index score is being assessed. 

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