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LBUSD won't have usual standardized tests this year

New law just signed by the governor paves the way for testing that aligns with the Common Core State Standards.

October 10, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Schools statewide, including all four Laguna Beach Unified School District campuses, will not be rated on students' performance on familiar standardized tests this year as California transitions to new assessments.

Supt. Sherine Smith praised Gov. Jerry Brown for signing Assembly Bill 484 into law last week, paving the way for tests that align with the Common Core State Standards, revamped assessments that focus on interpretation, critical thinking and writing for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Schools will not receive an Academic Performance Index ranking this year as the trial tests are given.

"It makes a lot of sense to suspend the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) program to give schools and teachers time to become familiar with field testing in math and English-language arts," Smith said. "It will allow teachers to become familiar with the test questions. The students will have to take tests on computers, which is a dramatic change."

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The law suspends most STAR tests to allow districts to transition to new California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress assessments, set to go into effect in the 2014-15 school year, according to a California Department of Education news release.

This year's trial tests will be computer-based, allowing for a broader range of test questions than multiple-choice exams, the release said.

Students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 will take either an English-language or mathematics field test, the state education department website said. Grade-level science tests will be given to students in fifth, eighth and 10th grades, according to the website.

A student's previous responses will affect the difficulty of subsequent questions, allowing for more precise measurement of student skills and knowledge than the former tests, according to the release.

The transition to Common Core is already underway at the district's four schools: El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools, Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School, Smith said in a follow-up email.

"In September, [district officials] selected lead teachers at each school to help lead implementation efforts at each school," she said. "These teachers will facilitate conversations and meetings with colleagues regarding implementation of the Common Core state standards, attend regularly scheduled professional learning opportunities focused on [training, coaching and supporting teachers]."

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