California Pushes Back Against Feds With Science Test


The state of California will move forward with their new assessment aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards regardless of the U.S. Department of Education’s letter telling them they must stick with the old test. This is the “flexibility” that the Every Student Succeeds Act provides. While I think California’s move to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards and a subsequent assessment is wrong headed I am encouraged to see the state push back.

The Federal government has no business dictating to a state what assessment they use or mandating that they should use any for that matter. California appears to be doing what every state should be doing when it comes to federal overreach into education – ignore them. We’ll see if they stand firm or if they end up caving.

EdSource reports:

California education officials have decided that students will take only one statewide standardized test in science this spring, a pilot test based on new standards known as the Next Generation Science Standards.

The decision, made in recent weeks, pits state education officials against the U.S. Department of Education, which told California officials in a Sept. 30 letter that they must continue to administer the older science based on standards adopted in 1998, and publish the scores on those tests.

California has been administering the multiple choice, paper-and-pencil California Standards Tests in science to 5th8th and 10th graders until as recently as last year, as required by the No Child Left Behind law.

But the State Board of Education adopted the new science standards in 2013, and educators had planned to administer a pilot version of a new online test aligned with those standards this spring. It had requested a federal waiver from having to give the old test as well, but the U.S. Department of Education denied its request….

….The department has given the state until Dec. 1 to resubmit its waiver request if it meets conditions outlined in the letter. Barr said that California intends to submit another request for a waiver. On Saturday, she told EdSource that the resubmission of the waiver appeal “may or may not include some of the options” outlined in the Whalen letter, but did not offer details.

U.S. Department of Education spokeswoman Dorie Nolt said that California can submit an appeal of the department’s decision as outlined in the Sept. 30 letter. However, she said, “the department has not received an appeal and cannot speculate on what steps CDE will take to correct the issues identified in the letter.”

Read the rest.

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