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. AB 476 Page 2 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. AB 476 Page 3 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. AB 476 Page 4 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.