Southern California Public Radio (11/21) reports that the California Department of Education says it is “backing down” from plans to only require districts to give a single Common Core-aligned test this spring, and will now require both the math and English test. The article quotes Superintendent Tom Torlakson saying “These field tests simply make good sense, and expanding them to include both subjects for most students makes even better sense—in contrast to ‘double testing’ students, which makes little sense at all.” The article notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan had objected to the one-test plan, and “threatened to withhold as much as $3.5 billion in classroom funds if the state didn’t change.”
EdSource Today (11/22) reports the state “headed off a confrontation” with ED over the issue, noting that the one-test plan was contrary to “long-standing federal law” requiring testing in several grades. The piece quotes Torlakson saying, “This move to up-to-date new assessments marks a major step forward in California’s work to ensure that every student graduates equipped to succeed in college and careers.” The piece adds, however, that it is not certain that this change will meet ED’s requirements, noting that Duncan has said that states wishing to use the Common Core field tests for traditional annual tests would have to have a waiver.
The Merced (CA) Sun-Star (11/21) also covers this story, noting that last month, Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle “threatened to withhold $15 million in Title I dollars and possibly $3.5 billion in other funds” unless the state relented from its plan, codified in a bill passed over the summer, to abandon the former state test in favor of a single Common Core-aligned test.