California Plan to Overhaul Standardized Tests Riles Feds

Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- California lawmakers sent Governor Jerry Brown a bill to overhaul standardized testing of school children, even as federal education officials say they may withhold funding if the measure becomes law.

The bill, which won final approval today in the Assembly, would replace the multiple-choice printed test students in the most populous U.S. state have taken for more than two decades with computerized math and language exams tied to new national curriculum standards adopted by 45 states.

The move came even after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned California that the state may lose federal education funds if it switches systems. The state would be left without required test scores while the new exams are brought online, he said.

“This vote brings us a step closer to trading our outdated fill-in-the-bubble paper tests for new, computerized assessments that model the skills today’s students need,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement yesterday. “If we want our education system to inspire students to learn to think critically and solve problems, we need tests to match those lofty goals.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net