By Len Feldman
At press time, the state Senate's Education Committee was scheduled to have a first hearing for a CTA-sponsored measure that would end California's unnecessary and costly practice of subjecting second-graders to the annual California Standards Tests (CSTs) in the state's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program.
CTA-sponsored SB 800, by Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), would exclude second-graders from the testing requirement as of July 1, 2010. By so doing, the measure would also provide more instructional time for these students, helping them gain the skills needed to meet the state's rigorous standards.
A majority of states (over 40) do not require second-graders to take tests like the CSTs. Studies have determined that statewide standardized tests for children under age 8 are not "age and developmentally appropriate."
Classroom educators and parents — backed up by research studies and professional early childhood associations — report that these tests do not provide "meaningful, valid and reliable data" that can be used in "high-stakes" accountability systems.
CTA representatives point out that testing nearly 500,000 second-graders annually costs the state about $2 million to $4 million annually without providing helpful information to inform teaching and learning.
Ironically, eliminating the second-grade CSTs will actually strengthen the state's accountability system by bringing California's testing requirements in line with those of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which does not require second-grade testing.
If approved by the Senate Education Committee in mid-April, SB 800 would eventually move to the Senate floor and then to the state Assembly.