BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                         SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                              Gloria Romero, Chair
                           2009-2010 Regular Session
                                        

          BILL NO:       AB 476
          AUTHOR:        Torlakson
          AMENDED:       June 30, 2009
          FISCAL COMM:   Yes            HEARING DATE:  July 8, 2009
          URGENCY:       No             CONSULTANT:    James Wilson

           SUBJECT  :  Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program
          
           SUMMARY  

          This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction  
          (SPI) to contract for an independent evaluation of the  
          Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program,  
          including the standards aligned tests administered in  
          grades 2 - 11, and report findings of the evaluation to the  
          Governor and Legislature by November 2010.

           BACKGROUND  

          The STAR Program, initially authorized in 1997, requires  
          testing of students in grades 2 through 11, including  
          English language arts and mathematics at most grade levels,  
          and science and 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 California Standards  
          Tests are written specifically to test California's content  
          standards.  The STAR Program is currently scheduled to  
          sunset in July 2011. 

          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. Many elements of the  
          STAR Program are used by California to meet the assessment  
          and accountability requirements of the federal No Child  
          Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which requires standards-aligned  
          achievement testing in reading and mathematics to all  
          students in grades 3-8 and grade 10; and also requires  
          science testing in grades 5, 8, and 10.




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           ANALYSIS
           
           This bill:

           1)   Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction  
               (SPI) to contract, by April 1, 2010, for an  
               independent evaluation of the Standardized Testing and  
               Reporting (STAR) Program, including independent  
               evaluation or analysis of the following:

               a)        Alignment between the assessment used to  
                    calculate adequate yearly progress (AYP) or  
                    academic performance index (API) and the content  
                    standards on which the assessment is based.

               b)        Alignment between the STAR assessments and  
                    the full range of the content standards and a  
                    determination of whether the STAR Program  
                    assesses pupil knowledge in the same manner and  
                    at the same level of complexity as expected in  
                    the content standards.

               c)        Grade level continuity and vertical  
                    alignment of standards-aligned test content, and  
                    the ability of the tests to produce scores for an  
                    individual pupil that can be validly compared  
                    from year to year.

               d)        Pupil performance by test, grade level, race  
                    or ethnicity.

               e)        The degree to which the STAR Program  
                    complies with professional testing standards and  
                    satisfies state and federal testing requirements  
                    for each grade level.

               f)        The usefulness of STAR tests for program  
                    evaluations, pupil-level information and  
                    diagnostic assessment for classroom use. 

               g)        The feasibility and cost of the development  
                    and administration of a diagnostic alternative  
                    test in grade levels and content standard areas  
                    that are not required be tested under federal  
                    law.




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          2)   Requires that the evaluation separately consider test  
               results for English learners, special education  
               pupils, pupils in poverty, and any group of pupils  
               that is determined to be differently affected by STAR  
               tests.

          3)   Requires the evaluator to include recommendations:

               a)        To improve the quality, fairness, validity,  
                    and reliability of the tests.

               b)        For revisions in design, administration,  
                    scoring, processing, or use of the tests to  
                    ensure compliance with state and federal  
                    requirements. 

               c)        For revisions to improve grade level  
                    continuity and vertical  alignment of test  
                    content and the ability of the tests to produce  
                    scores for an individual pupil that can be  
                    validly compared from year to year.

               d)        For revisions to improve integration of  
                    content standards in core curriculum areas and  
                    improve the usefulness of the test to state and  
                    local educational agencies, as well as, schools,  
                    teachers, pupils, and parents.

               e)        For revisions that would allow the STAR  
                    Program to provide pupil-level diagnostic  
                    information and to provide a diagnostic  
                    assessment for classroom use.

          4)   Requires the SPI to provide the evaluation to the  
               Legislature, the Governor, and the State Board of  
               Education by November 1, 2010.

          5)   Requires the SPI's advisory committee on API matters  
               to advise the SPI on the independent evaluation, as  
               specified, and requires the SPI to add four  
               individuals having expertise in large-scale assessment  
               to the advisory committee for this purpose only.

          6)   Requires the SPI to use $150,000 of specified federal  
               funds for the purpose of the contracted evaluation.




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           STAFF COMMENTS  

           1)   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 Programs  SB 376 (Alpert),  
               Chapter 828, Statutes of 1997, establishes the STAR  
               Program and authorizes testing in grades 2 through 11.

           2)   Fiscal impact.   According to the Assembly  
               Appropriations           Committee, the 2009 Budget  
               Act allocates $55.4 million for STAR testing including  
               $50 million from the state General Fund, and $5.4  
               million of federal funds.  This bill would use  
               $150,000 of one-time federal Title VI Flexibility and  
               Accountability funds under the No Child Left Behind  
               Act to contract with an independent evaluator.

           SUPPORT  

          Association of California School Administrators
          Business for Science, Math and Related Technologies  
          Education
          California Alliance for Arts Education
          California Teachers Association
          Small School Districts' Association
          California Science Teachers Association

           OPPOSITION

           None received.