BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 476
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 22, 2009

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                  AB 476 (Torlakson) - As Amended:  April 14, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                              EducationVote:8-3

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              No


          This bill eliminates the administration of the Standardized  
          Testing and Reporting (STAR) program to pupils in grade 2 and  
          requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), on or  
          before April 1, 2010, to contract with an independent contractor  
          to evaluate the STAR program.  Specifically, this bill: 

          1)Requires the evaluation to include, but not be limited to, the  
            following: (a) alignment of federal and state accountability;  
            (b) alignment of the STAR assessments and the state academic  
            content standards; (c) pupil performance; (d) alignment with  
            the STAR program and professional teaching standards; (d)  
            usefulness of the STAR program for diagnostic purposes; (e)  
            feasibility and cost of the development of a diagnostic  
            assessment for all grade levels and content areas; and (f)  
            separate analysis of test results for significant subgroups  
            (i.e., English learners, pupils with special needs, and  
            economically disadvantaged pupils).  

          2)Requires the report submitted by the independent contractor to  
            include the findings of the different analyses and evaluations  
            as described above and recommendations for  
            improvements/revisions to the STAR program, as specified.    
            This measure further requires the report to be submitted to  
            the Legislature, Governor, and State Board of Education on or  
            before November 1, 2010.   

          3)Requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to use funds,  
            not to exceed $150,000, made available by the elimination of  
            the STAR program for grade 2 for the purpose of contracting  
            for the evaluation.  


                                                                  AB 476
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           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)GF/98 savings, of approximately $2 million, to eliminate the  
            STAR program assessments for pupils in grade 2.  The 2009  
            Budget Act allocates $55.4 million for the support of the STAR  
            program.  Of this amount, $50 million is GF/98 and $5.4  
            million are federal assessment funds.  Local education  
            agencies will receive $2.52 per pupil to administer the STAR  
            assessments in the 2009-10 fiscal year.    

          2)Reallocation of GF/98 savings, of at least $150,000, to  
            contract with an independent evaluator, as required in this  
            measure.  This bill requires SDE to use the savings from the  
            elimination of the STAR program for grade 2 to fund the  
            evaluation, which may not exceed $150,000.  This provision  
            eliminates the discretion of the Legislature to realize the  
            full $2 million in GF/98 savings.   


           1)Purpose  .  The STAR program, established by Chapter 828,  
            Statutes of 1997 (SB 376, Alpert), reauthorized by SB 80  
            (Committee on Budget), Chapter 174, Statute of 2007, consists  
            of three elements: (a) the California Standards Tests (CST);  
            (c) the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education primary language  
            test, and (d) the California Alternative Performance  
            Assessment for special education pupils. Under the STAR  
            program, the state requires schools to test all students in  
            grades 2 to 11 in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics  
            using a CST. However, only specified grades are assessed in  
            history/social and science. Likewise, AB 519 (Budget  
            Committee), Chapter 757, Statutes of 2008, eliminated the  
            California Achievement Test, the norm-referenced test  
            administered to pupils in grades 3 and 8.  The STAR program  
            sunsets in 2011.

            As a condition of receiving over $1.6 billion in federal  
            funding, the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)  
            requires states to assess pupils, including English language  
            learners and special education pupils, in ELA and mathematics  
            in grades 3-8 and grade 10. Also, NCLB also requires states to  
            assess pupils in grades five, eight, and 10 in science. 


                                                                  AB 476
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            The STAR program fulfills the state's assessment requirements  
            with respect to federal law. However, the state administers  
            assessments beyond the requirements of federal law with  
            respect to academic content and grade level. For example, the  
            state assesses pupils in history/social science in grades 8-11  
            and in ELA and math beginning in grade 2 until grade 11. Many  
            individuals argue that the state spends too much time and  
            money administering assessments to pupils beyond what is  
            required by federal law. In particular, individuals argue that  
            pupils in grade 2 are too young to endure a week of  
            standardized testing under the STAR program.  However, many  
            school districts, teachers, parents, and the author argue that  
            there is value to assessing second graders for diagnostic  
            purposes (i.e., level of reading skills). This bill eliminates  
            the STAR program in grade 2 and requires a comprehensive  
            evaluation of the program, including exploring a diagnostic  
            purpose for the assessments.   

           2)Similar legislation  .  SB 800, pending in the Senate Education  
            Committee, eliminates STAR program assessments for pupils in  
            grade 2.   

           3)Previous legislation  .  AB 1695 (Goldberg) required a school  
            district, by January 1, 2007, to select a diagnostic reading  
            test for administration to each pupil in grade 2 in that  
            district.  This bill was held on this committee's suspense  
            file in May 2005.   


          Analysis Prepared by  :    Kimberly Rodriguez / APPR. / (916)