Standardized science standoff: California, feds at odds again over a statewide test
There's a standoff brewing between education officials in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., over what standardized science test California students should take this spring.
It bears striking resemblance to a very similar 2014 impasse between the California and U.S. departments of education, and if that history is any indication, California's federal school funding could again be in jeopardy if this year's dispute escalates.
California Department of Education officials want to administer a new statewide science test to all fifth, eighth and tenth graders this spring; a test tailor-made to match the new science standards teachers are following this year.
But so far, the new test only exists in a shortened, pilot form; California would need an exemption from federal laws that require the state to report the scores of a benchmark science test every year.
U.S. Department of Education officials don't want to grant that exemption, saying California can't ignore the federal requirement to measure students' progress in science annually. Until the new exam is ready, the feds said the state's schools must at least continue administering the old test.
The catch? The old test is based on an old set of science standards, written in 1998, that California teachers no longer follow. California teachers are in their first full year using the new Next Generation Science Standards, which been rolling out since 2013.
"Teachers don’t want to give students a test without preparing them for it," said Jessica Sawko, executive director of the California Science Teachers Association.
Officials at the two departments will hold a hearing via teleconference this Friday, Jan. 6, in hopes of breaking the deadlock — but unless either state or federal officials change course, the two are bound for collision:
California state schools superintendent Tom Torlakson said state officials are still Standardized science standoff: California, feds at odds again over a statewide test | 89.3 KPCC: