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. Page 2 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.