The Senate Education Committee supports a bill setting a deadline for releasing test results statewide

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Test scores varied across California, but in general, smaller counties that remained open during Covid fared better in the 2022 Smarter Balanced ratings.

Both Republican Senator and Governor Gavin Newsom are proposing pushing forward the annual deadline for releasing standardized test scores in California, which the Education Department withheld last year, then reversing course after a legal challenge by EdSource and public pressure.

Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, and the Newsom administration disagree on the details of how quickly Smarter Balanced and other standardized test results can be released.

Senate Bill 293, which Groff authors, will set an October 15 deadline for CDE to make test results available to the public. Newsom’s proposal would move the publication forward over three years, starting this year on December 1, a deadline that will become October 15 permanently starting in 2026.

Grove’s bill passed through the Senate Education Committee Wednesday morning with bipartisan support and no opposition from special interests.

“We need to know how our public school systems are doing,” Grove said at the hearing. By setting a deadline for publishing test scores, the state will continually receive “the data we need to make good education decisions.”

Grove said delaying the release of this information makes it more difficult for educators, academics, researchers and policymakers to make decisions about investments to improve student performance.

Committee members embraced the idea.

“This is a very good and reasonable measure,” said the committee’s chairman, Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton.

The move comes after EdSource raised objections last year to claims by the California Department of Education that statewide test results wouldn’t be released until December or January — even though most school districts and charter schools received their final, accurate results in the late summer and early fall. . The students took the tests last spring. The data, which includes test scores by demographic groups, is used to identify low-performing areas that require assistance from state and county education offices.

In a September 21, 2022 letter to CDEEdSource takes away the department’s position that school and district test results remain in draft form and are therefore not subject to release through a Public Records Act request.

“Please be advised that EdSource considers delays tantamount to denial because it effectively deprives the public of its vital role in overseeing the CDE and individual districts and in holding both its students and the public accountable,” EdSource attorney, “Duffy Carolan, of the San Francisco law firm, Duffy Vic Carolan, wrote in a statement. Email to CDE Communications Director Maria Clayton “This is especially important during what remains one of the most challenging and impactful times for our education system due to the COVID pandemic.”

The department did not respond to EdSource’s letter. However, in late September it announced that it would expedite the release of test results and subsequently made a release on October 23.

School districts and teachers have always needed results before school starts in late summer or early fall, said Doug McCrae, a retired executive with the testing company, but sometimes those states are late in getting them out.

Idaho, Delaware and Connecticut have continued the path of “getting the data as soon as possible,” he said. “Vermont is lagging every year.” He added that California as well

“It’s always political,” McCrae said. He said “the best statewide evaluation programs come out of the legislature with a mix of Republicans who tend to support mandated (release date)” and Democrats who focus on school accountability. Union Democrats oppose it. That’s the division I see in many different states.”

Newsom suggested a gradual timeline for releasing the data in his budget trailer bill which he published in early February. Test scores will be included with all school and district data that are components of the test California School Dashboard.

The dashboard includes student performance not only on standardized assessments in math, English arts, and science, but also data on chronic absence, suspension rates, graduation rates, college and career readiness, and English language learners’ progress in English language proficiency.

Brooks Allen, executive director of the state board of education, said the approach is in line with the state board’s position emphasizing a multidimensional view of student and school performance — and a shift away from No Child Left Behind’s federal focus on test scores alone.

“It’s better to look at everything in its entirety; then see the relationship between chronic absences and test scores.

Transferring all of the dashboard data is more complicated than transferring just test scores, Allen said, which is compiled by a single vendor, ETS, that works with school districts to make sure it’s accurate. He said other metrics, such as chronic absenteeism, require a broader range of data points across more scores, along with additional employee training at the district level.

The CDE and the state assembly had intended to release test results and other dashboard indicators soon, Allen said, but Covid disruptions have hampered data collection and led to a two-year suspension of the dashboard. But he also acknowledged that EdSource records requests to “force our hands” to speed up the schedule.

Allen said the state board has recognized the value of releasing test results and other dashboard data in the fall when districts begin to identify priorities and student groups that need additional help and resources as part of their local control and accountability plans. The lengthy planning process culminated the following June in the adoption of the National Action Plans.

Allen said there was an inadvertent misunderstanding in the past year about when individual counties’ testing data became public documents. This point is after districts receive final and audited test results from the state and start sharing them with school boards. It could happen weeks before the state gets accurate data from 100% of the districts and charter schools and releases a statewide dashboard update, he said. The deadline will not be later than October 15, 2026, Allen said, if the legislature passes the governor’s proposal.

He declined to comment on the administration’s view of Grove’s bill.

Grove spokesperson, Brooke Sorensen told EdSource shortly after the committee’s vote that “As of now, Senator Grove is not working with the administration. She intends to move forward with this bill because test scores are essential in evaluating public school systems.”

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