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State Superintendent Calls for Standardized Testing Revamp

Tom Torlakson's plan would emphasize critical thinking skills. Some STAR testing may be suspended. Do you think this is a move in the right direction?

In the near future, California students could be thinking a lot more and filling in fewer bubbles when they take standardized statewide tests.

At a news conference Tuesday, state Superintendent Tom Torlakson unveiled a new testing system for schools statewide.

"Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore and it's time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college," Torlakson said.

According to MercuryNews.com:

As part of an overhaul of the state's curriculum standards, the STAR tests familiar to every parent and student would be transformed in two years with requirements for in-depth essays and projects that students will complete on computers. The changes proposed by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson go far beyond the tests themselves, impacting how teachers teach and how students learn.

If approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators, the new testing system would begin in the 2014-15 school year.

The new tests follow the guidelines set forth in the Common Core State Standards. Those recommendations were put together last year by a task force that studied new testing methods under a mandate by the state Legislature.

The state superintendent wants to suspend STAR Program assessments unless the exams are specifically mandated by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or used for the Early Assessment Program (EAP). This change would halt STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course exams at the high school level.

Torlakson said the current testing system has improved student learning throughout the state, but it's time to seek a different kind of assessment.

"We're moving to a new dimension, a higher dimension," he said, favoring a focus on students' critical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving rather than just memorization of knowledge.

State leaders said the new tests will measure the ability of students to understand and use what they have learned.

Should the state testing system be revamped? Tell us in the comments section.

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