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Superintendent Deasy Not Happy With Latest Testing Bill

Hillel Aron | September 5, 2013



Superintendent John Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy said today that he is uncomfortable with inconsistencies in the current version of Assembly Bill 484, which effectively kills the the state standardized tests, the so-called CSTs, and ushers in the new era of Common Core tests, to be taken on computers.

“We had a unique opportunity in front of us that has both pros and cons,” Deasy told LA School Report. “If we were going to stop the CSTs, which meant having no data for a year, there had to be a pretty compelling reason. For me, it would have been that every student would have the opportunity to take the new tests. If that had been the case, I definitely would have supported it.”

But according to the current version of the bill, the state will provide each school district with only the math or English versions of the new test.

“It appears now that that tradeoff is imbalanced,” said Deasy. “Not only are there no accountability measures, but we’re not going to allow all students to take it.”

Local school districts will still have the option of taking both the math and English tests – but they’ll have to cover the cost for the other one. That’s a pretty penny, since the tests cost between $5 and $6 per student. That would cost LA Unified, which has been lobbying to take both math and English tests, roughly $3.6 million, although that could be paid for with the $113 million in state funds earmarked for the Common Core transition.

That provision hasn’t mollified Deasy.

“So the districts who can afford that, those districts get a leg up?” he said. “As a public policy matter, that’s incredibly fraught with the issues of haves and have nots.”

Deasy said he hopes the measure will be amended so that the state will pay for both tests – and if that happens, he pledged to support the bill.

State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was expected to author an amendment that would pay for students to take both math and English tests. According to Superintendent Deasy, that amendment will now not be offered, as it has been deemed too expensive.

“We have to consider what the appropriate next steps will be,” he said.

On a conference call with reporters today, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the northern California Democrat who introduced AB 484, depicted this year as a dry run of sorts for local school districts administering the new tests. “It’s really a test of the test,” she said.

In fact, students won’t even be answering the same questions as other students sitting next to them. The point is more to gauge the effectiveness of the questions, rather than the aptitude of the students.

The bill moves to the Senate floor next week. It must be delivered to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature before next Friday, when the legislature goes on recess.

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