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LS_STAR_TESTS_1.JPGAfter debating the relative merits and drawbacks of standardized testing, the Assembly on Wednesday sent Gov. Jerry Brown legislation allowing California schools to opt out of current statewide assessments.

California has been preparing to implement tests aligned to new national Common Core standards, but late bill amendments broadened the number of schools that can drop the current Standardized Testing and Reporting so teachers would not teach to new standards while old tests loom.

Brown has backed Assembly Bill 484 despite warnings from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that the bill sidesteps California's obligations to gauge the performance of schools and educators through year-to-year test score comparisons. Critics of the bill articulated similar concerns on the Assembly floor.

"Is testing for teacher accountability, or is it for feedback?" asked Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, vice chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

"Californians want testing," she added, "but Assembly Bill 484 guts testing by eliminating it."

Lawmakers backing the bill said it would help California transition into a new framework for classroom instruction and testing.

"The train has left the station," said Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside. "Common Core is here. The teachers are out there doing it."

PHOTO: Sacramento area second graders prepare for the annual state school exams on April 26, 2007. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling


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