Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues
The long-running battle between California and the federal government over the direction of state education policy continues, despite passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that delegates far more decision-making powers to local school districts than its much-maligned predecessor, the No Child Left Behind law.
In an unexpected response two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education rejected California’s application for a federal waiver from having to administer the California Standards Tests in science, a multiple choice test based on outdated science standards adopted nearly two decades ago.
What makes the latest run-in with the administration so head-scratching is that it comes in the waning months of the Obama administration — over a relatively small piece of a student’s standardized testing regimen, at least compared to the Smarter Balanced math and English tests aligned with the Common Core standards.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, as well as the Every Student Succeeds Act replacing it, states are required to administer a science test each year to 5th- and 8th-graders, and once to high school students, and to report the scores on those tests.
But the new federal law, referred to in the education policy vernacular as ESSA, only goes into effect in the 2017–18 school year. California and the nation are now in a transitional period between NCLB and the new law.
The Obama administration has itself ruled that some of the most onerous provisions of the NCLB law are no longer in effect even though the law itself is still technically on the books.
Complicating matters is that the science testing requirement comes at a time when science instruction, and new tests to assess student progress, are in a transitional period.
That’s because California, along with 17 other states, has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards and is Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues | EdSource: