Standards and Assessments
We are proud that California’s academic content standards, approved by the State Board of Education in 1999, have been deemed to be among the best state standards nationwide. These voluntary standards cover English, math, science and social science for grades K-12, and are intended to drive what teachers teach and what students learn in California’s public schools.
How well the standards are learned by students is assessed by the state’s mandatory Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, which are administered once per year statewide. These standardized tests measure how well students have mastered the standards they have been taught.
The tragedy in California is that while we have rigorous standards, our students aren’t learning them. Year after year, achievement data reveals that too many of the state’s students struggle to reach grade level expectations in English and math, and many are failing outright. And although student achievement is growing at a slow but consistent pace, also growing is the vast and persistent gaps between African-American, Latino, and low-income students and their White and more affluent peers.
California’s high school students are also assessed on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which they are required to pass in order to graduate. The CAHSEE is currently the only measure we have to ensure a high school diploma represents some measure of learning, rather than simply time served in a seat.
Despite the naysayers, in the years since the CAHSEE became a graduation requirement in 2006, we have not seen increased dropout rates and the doomsday consequences that many predicted. Indeed it has been quite the opposite. California’s high school students continue to rise to the challenge and overall pass rates have improved for each graduating class since the class of 2006. The truth is when we ask students to do more; they almost always rise to the challenge.
And while the CAHSEE is necessary, it is not necessarily sufficient. The CAHSEE tests only 7th and 8th grade math standards and 10th grade English standards. We should and must expect more of our high school graduates if we expect them to be able to achieve post-secondary success in college and career.
Over 90% of students overall meet these minimal standards. The time is now to ratchet up the rigor of the CAHSEE so that it actually assesses the full range of skills we know our students need for post-secondary success, rather than those skills that relegate them to unemployment lines, dimly-lit futures and dead end jobs.
To read the Education Trust-West’s published work on Standards and Assessments, please see below.
Catching up to the Core: Common Sense Strategies for Accelerating Access to the Common Core in California
The new Education Trust—West report, Catching up to the Core: Common Sense Strategies for Accelerating Access to the Common Core in California, finds that California has fallen far behind other states and even local school districts in implementing the new English Language Arts and Math CCSS. This lack of progress will leave millions of California students trailing their peers in other states, two years before new assessments aligned with the Common Core are expected to come online.
The report profiles best practices for implementing the CCSS in other states and school districts, including some in California. It highlights promising work in teacher professional development, instructional materials, technology, and alignment with systems of higher education, particularly in teacher preparation.
The report concludes with common sense recommendations for California policymakers. These include improving public understanding of the Common Core, expanding educator professional development, aligning instructional materials, and addressing technology infrastructure and capacity.
New Education Trust—West Report Finds California Lagging Far Behind Other States in Implementing the Common Core State Standards
OAKLAND, CA (December 10, 2012) – Timed with the release of a new Education Trust—West (ETW) report, Catching up to the Core: Common Sense Strategies for Accelerating Access to the Common Core in California, a group of prominent advocates andeducation leaders are calling on California’s leaders to fully implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010.
“Over the past two years, California has lagged in efforts to implement the Common Core while other states have accelerated forward,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education policy, research, and advocacy organization. “With so many examples of progress, state leaders have run out of excuses. Catching up to the Core should be their top priority.”
The ETW report finds that California has fallen far behind other states and even local school districts in implementing the new English Language Arts and Math CCSS. This lack of progress will leave millions of California students trailing their peers in other states, two years before new assessments aligned with the Common Core are expected to come online.
Ensuring educational equity and creating rigorous coursework for all students daunts most districts. Oakland Unified School District recently reset the bar for graduation to match college entrance requirements in California. Learn how OUSD is partnering with The Education Trust to assess institutional barriers impeding student academic achievement. School counselor-led task forces identified and are changing district policies and practices that hinder academic achievement.
OAKLAND, CA (October 14, 2009) - Today’s results from the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress mathematics (NAEP) released by the U.S.
OAKLAND, CA (August 18, 2009) – Results from the 2009 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) released today by the California Department of Education (CDE) show marginal statewide improvement across most grade levels and content areas. More students are demonstrating mastery of state standards than at any point since standards and assessments became fully aligned in 2003.
“We must and do acknowledge the hard work of teachers, administrators, students and parents in these gains.
Statement by The Education Trust—West on The Budget Conference Committee Vote to Eliminate the California High School Exit Exam
OAKLAND, CA (June 17, 2009) - “Yesterday’s vote by the state’s Budget Conference Committee to eliminate the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) as a graduation requirement represents a huge step backward for California’s schools and students. Attempting to dig our way out of the current fiscal crisis by pillaging our education system ensures that we will still be digging our way out of this same hole—or rather our children will—for many years to come.
Statement by Russlynn Ali on Today's Analysis of Exit Exam Passage Rates for the Class of 2006: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Statement by Russlynn Ali, Director of The Education Trust—West, on Today's Ruling on The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)
SMALL GAINS, HUGE GAPS: The Education Trust—West's Statement on the Release of the 2009 California High School Exit Exam Results
OAKLAND, CA (September 2, 2009) – Results from the 2009 California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) released today by the California Department of Education (CDE) show marginal statewide improvement across both English and Math and for all ethnic groups throughout the state.
Overall, 90.6 percent of the class of 2009 passed the exam – a mere 0.2 percent higher than the class of 2008.