BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 476
                                                                  Page  1

          AB 476 (Torlakson)
          As Amended  June 1, 2009
          Majority vote 

           EDUCATION           8-3         APPROPRIATIONS      12-5        
          |Ayes:|Brownley, Ammiano,        |Ayes:|De Leon, Ammiano, Charles  |
          |     |Arambula, Buchanan,       |     |Calderon, Davis, Fuentes,  |
          |     |Carter, Eng, Solorio,     |     |Hall, John A. Perez,       |
          |     |Torlakson                 |     |Price, Skinner, Solorio,   |
          |     |                          |     |Torlakson, Krekorian       |
          |     |                          |     |                           |
          |Nays:|Nestande, Garrick,        |Nays:|Nielsen, Duvall, Harkey,   |
          |     |Miller,                   |     |Miller,                    |
          |     |                          |     |Audra Strickland           |
          SUMMARY  :  Requires a one-time independent evaluation of the  
          Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), on or  
            before April 1, 2010, to contract for an independent  
            evaluation of the STAR Program that:

             a)   Includes, but is not limited to, the STAR Program's  
               alignment to statewide content standards and the tests'  
               content validity, pupil performance, compliance with  
               testing standards, usefulness as diagnostic or evaluative  
               tools, and the feasibility of testing in new grade levels  
               or content areas.

             b)   Separately considers pupil subgroups and any  
               differential impacts STAR tests may have on those  

             c)   Makes recommendations for improvements and revisions in  
               the program, and is provided by the SPI to the Legislature,  
               Governor and State Board of Education (SBE) on or before  
               November 1, 2010.


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          2)Requires the advisory committee advising the SPI on matters  
            involving the Academic Performance Index to advise the SPI, as  
            specified, on the evaluation of the STAR Program, and requires  
            the SPI to appoint four additional members, educators or  
            large-scale assessment experts, to the advisory committee for  
            the purposes advising the SPI on the evaluation.

          3)Specifies that federal Flexibility and Accountability funds  
            pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), not  
            to exceed $150,000, be used for this evaluation.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Requires each charter school, school district, and county  
            office of education to administer designated achievement tests  
            to each pupil in grades 2 through 11, inclusive, as part of  
            the STAR Program until July 1, 2011.

          2)Requires the SPI and the SBE to undertake activities in  
            support of STAR testing in grades 2 through 11, inclusive, as  
            part of the STAR Program until July 1, 2011.

          3)Repeals statute authorizing the STAR Program, the state's  
            content and performance standards, and other related elements  
            as of January 1, 2012.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, one-time federal Title VI:  Flexibility and  
          Accountability funds under the No Child Left Behind Act, cost  
          pressure of $150,000, to contract with an independent evaluator,  
          as required in this measure. The 2009 Budget Act allocated $24  
          million in federal Title VI funds; of this amount, approximately  
          $5.43 million is for the STAR Program.

           COMMENTS  :  California's state assessment program is comprised of  
          three major testing components, the STAR Program, the English  
          language development test (the California English Language  
          Development Test, CELDT, is the adopted test), and a high school  
          exit examination (the California High School Exit Examination,  
          CAHSEE, is currently the designated test).  The program also  
          includes a number of smaller, more specialized assessments.

          The STAR Program, initially authorized in 1997, requires testing  
          of students in English language arts, mathematics, science and  


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          history/social science at specified grade levels.  In 2003, the  
          California Standards Tests (CST) replaced a nationally published  
          "off the shelf" test as the primary battery of STAR tests; the  
          CST include only questions written specifically for California's  
          content standards.  Today, the STAR Program includes the CSTs,  
          the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)  
          administered to students with significant cognitive  
          disabilities, the California Modified Assessment (CMA)  
          administered to students whose disabilities preclude them from  
          achieving grade-level proficiency on an assessment of the  
          California content standards with or without testing  
          accommodations, and a national norm-referenced test in Spanish  
          that is administered to Spanish speaking English learners who  
          have been in school in the U.S. less than 12 months or who are  
          receiving instruction in Spanish.  Neither the high school exit  
          exam nor the English language development test are components of  
          the STAR Program; each is separately authorized in statute.   
          Results for STAR tests are reported for the individual pupil,  
          but no accountability attaches to these individual results; the  
          state and federal accountability systems are primarily based on  
          the aggregated STAR test scores from all pupils in a school or  
          school district.  The following table summarizes testing  
          requirements under California's STAR Program.

          |           |         Assessment         | Grade Level Tested   |
          |STAR       |English Language Arts       |         2-11         |
          |Program    |(Reading)                   |                      |
          |           |English Language Arts       |         2-11         |
          |           |(Reading) CAPA              |                      |
          |           |English Language Arts       |         3-11         |
          |           |(Reading) CMA               |                      |
          |           |Mathematics                 |2-8 and EOC in grades |
          |           |                            |        9-11          |
          |           |Mathematics CAPA            |         2-11         |
          |           |Mathematics CMA             |         3-11         |
          |           |Science                     |   5, 8, and EOC in   |


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          |           |                            |     grades 9-11      |
          |           |History-Social Science      |         8-11         |
          |           |Primary Language Assessment |2 -11                 |
          |           |(Spanish)                   |                      |
          |           |                            |                      |
          EOC = End-of-course exam

          Many elements of the STAR Program are used by California to meet  
          the assessment and accountability requirements of NCLB. NCLB  
          requires each state to administer a standards-aligned  
          achievement test in reading and mathematics to all students in  
          grades 3-8 and grade 10; it also requires science testing in  
          grades 5, 8, and 10.

          This bill requires an independent evaluation of the STAR  
          Program.  According to the author, this bill "would authorize an  
          independent evaluation of the current STAR program's  
          effectiveness in measuring student progress on California  
          academic standards and meeting the requirements of NCLB.  This  
          evaluation would also examine the feasibility and cost of a  
          state-wide diagnostic testing model, to achieve both a  
          classroom-focused diagnostic tool and a state-wide data tracking  
          function. This independent evaluation would inform the STAR  
          reauthorization discussion."

          Given the sunset and potential reauthorization of the STAR  
          Program in 2011, the Legislature's need for an evaluation of the  
          program is clear.  The STAR Program has tested millions of  
          students in multiple content areas annually for twelve years,  
          however, no independent evaluation has been required or  
          completed.  A technical report on the test is completed annually  
          by the testing contractor responsible for administration,  
          scoring, and reporting the test and results, but the  
          independence of contractors has been called into question by the  
          California Department of Education and the SBE over the lifetime  
          of the program.  A report by the SPI and SBE regarding the  
          status of implementation of the STAR Program was required and  
          provided in 2001; an annual report of test scores from the SPI  
          to the Legislature and SBE is also required.  Neither the annual  
          technical reports nor any of the SPI/SBE reports were completed  
          by an independent entity, and none of those reports examine all  


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          of the issues that the Legislature should examine prior to the  
          reauthorization of the STAR Program.

          By contrast California's high school exit examination,  
          authorized in 1999 and first administered in 2001, has had an  
          ongoing independent evaluator that has issued both annual and  
          biennial evaluative reports since 2001.  These evaluations are  
          contracted for separately from the contract issued to the vendor  
          or vendors responsible for the administration, development or  
          any other facet of the test, and have been conducted by a firm  
          and staff with backgrounds in measurement, and specializing in  
          research and program evaluation.

          During this period of economic and budgetary crisis, imposing  
          the requirement of a new one-time evaluation and the cost that  
          it creates will be difficult for the Legislature to consider.   
          However, since the cost of implementing a one-time evaluation of  
          the STAR Program is minimal and constrained to be not more than  
          $150,000, this cost will likely be offset by future savings  
          generated by the evaluation's findings, that may allow the  
          Legislature to more efficiently use the state's resources to  
          support the reauthorized testing program.  
          Related and previous legislation:  SB 800 (Hancock), pending in  
          the Senate Education Committee, eliminates grade 2 STAR testing  
          and makes conforming changes to dates by which related sections  
          of law become inoperative and are repealed.  SB 1448 (Alpert),  
          Chapter 233, Statutes of 2004, reauthorizes the STAR Program.   
          SB 376 (Alpert), Chapter 828, Statutes of 1997, establishes the  
          STAR Program and authorizes testing in grades 2 through 11.

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Gerald Shelton / ED. / (916) 319-2087

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