BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                           Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair

                                           476 (Torlakson)
          Hearing Date:  08/17/2009           Amended: 06/30/2009
          Consultant:  Dan Troy           Policy Vote: ED 7-1
          BILL SUMMARY:   AB 476 would require the Superintendent of  
          Public Instruction, on or before April 1, 2010, to contract with  
          an independent evaluator for the Standardized Testing and  
          Reporting (STAR) program.  The report would be due by November  
          1, 2010, and is intended to help guide consideration of  
          reauthorizing the program prior to its scheduled sunset in July  
          of 2011.   
                            Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions         2009-10      2010-11       2011-12     Fund
          STAR evaluation                              Range of $500 to  
          $1,000, though bill         Federal
                                             Limits expenditures to $150

          STAFF COMMENTS: This bill meets the criteria for referral to the  
          Suspense File.
          The STAR Program, initially authorized in 1997, requires the  
          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 an earlier "off  
          the shelf" test as the primary battery of STAR tests.  The CSTs  
          are written specifically to test California's content standards.  
           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.   
          The STAR Program is currently scheduled to sunset in July 2011. 

          This bill would require an independent evaluation of the  


          Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program.   
          Specifically, this bill would:  

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

             a)   Include, but is not limited to, the STAR Program's  
               alignment to statewide content standards and the tests'  
               content validity, grade level continuity, 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 consider pupil subgroups and any differential  
               impacts STAR tests may have on those subgroups.

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          AB 476 (Torlakson)

             c)   Make recommendations for improvements and revisions in  
               the program, and to improve grade level continuity and  
               vertical alignment of standards-aligned test content.  

          2)Require 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)Specify 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.

          The SPI would be required to provide the evaluation to the  
          Legislature, the Governor, and the State Board of Education by  
          November 1, 2010.

          Despite the importance of the STAR program to the K-12  
          accountability systems, there has yet to be an independent  
          evaluation of the program.  An evaluation could help to guide  
          consideration of reauthorizing the program prior to its  
          scheduled sunset in July of 2011.  


          While the bill specifies that costs would be limited to  
          $150,000, the Department of Education believes between $500,000  
          and $1,000,000 would be needed to meet the provisions of the  
          bill.  It is staff's understanding that the author is working  
          with the Department to find ways to narrow the bill's cost while  
          maintaining key components of the evaluation.