Common Core Testing Battle in California

In Los Angeles, there’s an unusual fight over Common Core. This fight is about testing before implementation. Although it is set to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year, a proposed bill (AB 484) was supposed to have their standardized testing align with those standards this year.

The bill, written by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and supported by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, has now changed. Arguments can be made that it takes time to switch to the new forms of testing. That is precisely why the original bill called for a hiatus on any testing not required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), giving school time to adjust to the new curriculum. So, the required testing would align with Common Core standards, and other tests would be skipped this year. Unfortunately, it is no longer written that way.

The revised bill would have students tested beyond that of NCLB requirements, and these tests would align with Common Core English and math. These tests would be on a trial basis for districts who choose to administer them and have the required equipment.  Schools and teachers would not be held accountable for the results on this trial run. As for other subjects, history tests would be suspended if this bill became law, as would science tests not required under federal law.

Of course, as with far too many things, the state requires federal permission. Arne Duncan may not be easily swayed. Since not all students would take the test, and the data would not be released, the Department of Education argues that this would endanger NCLB funding. Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent, says that California will hold its ground. Duncan says that he can withhold some or all of the $1.5 billion California receives in Title I funds each year. This seems a little odd as he’s letting other states do just the same thing that California is proposing to do.  

Common Core has been political since its inception, and it would appear it’s just heating up.