The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday indicated it would ease up on standardized test reporting requirements for states that transition to new computerized tests this spring. But that only solves half of California's problem.
A bill passed by the Legislature and expected to be signed by the governor would test students in English or math - not both, as required by federal law. It also calls for the results to be shielded from the public, calling the tests "practice."
In a 19-page letter to states Tuesday, the Department of Education said schools that administer the new test could ask for a waiver that would relieve them of having to report the results - because the tests are still in the testing phase themselves.
"The Department is offering flexibility related to reporting results of the field test s well as flexibility related to accountability determinations precisely because we understand and expect that the field test would not yield a valid or reliable score for students," read the document, posted by the education trade publication Ed Week.
The Department of Education did not give states leeway to only test in one subject.
"We recognize that legislation awaiting action by the Governor would not meet the requirements outlined in today’s guidance," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said in a joint statement Tuesday. "Nevertheless, we continue to believe Assembly Bill 484 represents the right choice for California’s schools."
Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, who authored the testing bill, AB484, said Gov. Jerry Brown is currently negotiating with the federal government about California's plan.
State education officials have said they don't have the budget this year to pay for the new tests in both subjects.