California has embraced the Common Core standards and the SBA tests for the Common Core, but it has made an important decision: Not to use the test scores for high-stakes. California’s education leaders–namely, state Commissioner Tom Torlakson–once again demonstrate that they have more common sense than any other state that has submitted to federal dictates.


The State Board of Education unanimously voted to suspend for a year the Academic Performance Index, which is based on standardized test scores and widely used to evaluate a school’s performance in boosting academic achievement. Since the state is rolling out new tests this year, board members said they wanted at least two years of results to judge school progress.


Amid a national backlash against the overuse of test scores, board members also voted to shift from a school quality measure based solely on exam results to one that would include other factors. Possible additions include student attendance, dropout rates, suspensions, English proficiency, access to educational materials and performance in college-level classes.


“We have an opportunity to hit the reset button,” board member Patricia A. Rucker said at the Sacramento meeting…..


The representative for Los Angeles Unified School District said that in a dry run of the tests, one-third of the schools could not connect to the state server.


He also said that the district participated in statewide practice runs of the new tests last year but could not diagnose problems with them because the state did not release results….


In comments at the board meeting, Brian Rivas of the Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based advocacy organization for educational equity, cautioned that any new system must focus on closing achievement gaps among different groups of students.


Sherry Griffith of the Assn. of California School Administrators stressed that district officials and principals would continue to push hard for student improvement, using “every bit of data” from local and state tests.


“This is not about suspending accountability,” she said.


Education Trust is heavily funded by the Gates Foundation. It is hard to understand why EdTrust thinks that using test scores to rank students, teachers, and schools will “close” the achievement gaps. It hasn’t worked anywhere. Tests are a measure, not instruction. Measuring kids more often doesn’t raise their achievement.


Will California officials be surprised to learn that they cannot see the item analysis, they can see only the scores. Exactly how can they improve student performance when the tests provide no diagnostic information for any individual student?