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Should Capo Students Skip STAR Testing This Year?

While the state plans to ditch the test, the feds threaten funding. Meanwhile, CUSD trustees debate what's best for the district.

Should students in Capistrano Unified take STAR tests this year?  Patch file photo.
Should students in Capistrano Unified take STAR tests this year? Patch file photo.

Should students in Capistrano Unified take the standardized testing in spring just like they’ve been doing for years?

The state officials say no, and they’re battling the feds on the issue. Meanwhile, the local school board discussed it Wednesday, with one trustee suggesting Capo pay for it separately if it has to.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has been pushing hard in Sacramento to convince legislators that California school children shouldn’t have to take the Standardized Testing and Reporting  (STAR) tests this year because the state is transitioning to a new curriculum, a nationalized set of standards known as Common Core.

Torlakson refers to STAR testing as “outdated fill-in-the-bubble paper tests.”

“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,” Torlakson said in a released statement.

But Capo trustees learned Wednesday those new tests are at least a year away. The 2013-14 year is considered an “exploration year” with full implementation – in English and math initially – not coming until 2014-15, said Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent of elementary schools.

Until then, Trustee Jim Reardon said the district should still offer STAR testing, whether the state provides money for it or not. He said he found the proposal to have no standardized testing this year “irresponsible.”

But Trustee Lynn Hatton said she felt just the opposite, that offering STAR tests when teachers are no longer teaching precisely to the test to be a waste of money.

“It would be extremely irresponsible to spend the money on testing on something that they’re not going to be learn,” she said.

Superintendent Joseph Farley understands Sacramento’s desire to dump the STAR.

“When we had the state standards, those standards were reflected in the STAR test. It was appropriate to teach to that test,” he said. “This school year, that’s not going to be the case. This year … some standards are going to be dropped.”

But Reardon said it could be years before new curricula jive with the Common Core in some subjects, such as chemistry and biology. Parents should still be able to assess how their children are performing in those areas.

“I can’t imagine how we’re going to understand year-over-year how we’re doing if we’re not going to be seeing how we’re doing,” Reardon said, adding that he found it “shocking” no replacement tests were ready for the 2013-14 year.

Trustee Anna Bryson agreed with Reardon. “Parents deserve to have the comparative evaluation,” she said.

Meanwhile, Trustee Amy Hanacek agreed with Hatton.

“We’ll have a year with no STAR testing. Oh my God,” she said sarcastically. She worried that if teachers don’t teach the test, making them take the STAR will only set them up for failure.

fact checker September 25, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Dawn says, "In my opinion- every decision that is made regarding education is centered on money- not the education of children." This telling admission is another example of your true feelings. Teachers and districts make dozens of decisions (or more) every day and you feel that NONE of them are made in the best interests of children. Hyperbole is not your friend Dawn. But it does reveal your true self.
concerned parent September 25, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Yes, Shelly, I was speaking of when CC is fully implemented. I don't understand why the current policy needs to be changed. And FC, if as a retired teacher you don't understand why certain children need to be appropriately challenged, then I have nothing else to say. You wouldn't put a child who's struggling into a class that's two grades ahead of what he or she is ready for. By the same token, you shouldn't force children who are qualified at a high level to take a math class that's too easy and doesn't allow them to learn to their potential. It's Education 101 that children should be appropriately challenged at their own individual level. So please stop trying to defend the indefensible. There is no reason to make this change.
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 01:25 PM
At the risk of provoking the ire of some here, there are plenty of math teachers (high school and college) who feel that algebra is best taught in high school because of the developmental ability of students at that age. Brain development plays a key role in learning and it doesn't stop in early childhood. "Just because a child can do something doesn't mean than they should be doing it," Lillian Katz.
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 01:29 PM
OK concerned parent, here is an analogy for you. What do you do with a child in first grade, or kindergarten for that matter, who is word calling (able to read words fluently) at a grade 6 level. Do you move them up to read with a sixth grade class?
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 01:32 PM
In response to Fact Checker who stated: "Sorry Dawn but I am reluctant to rely on your posts for what really happened." --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Don't rely on what I say- you only need to look at 2 documents- both posted on the District Web Site. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The First Document is a memo from Clark Hampton to Trustees dated June 30, 2013 (paragraph 2) "Before LCFF was approved by the Legislature, the District Built its 2013- 2014 budget on the assumption that the only increase in District revenue came from COLA, which generated $4 million to reduce budget deficits for the 2013- 2014 fiscal year. The COLA alone did not completely trigger restoration of the permanent cuts." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Paragraph 3 goes on to explain: "Because the negotiated, one-time budget reductions in the 2012- 2013 fiscal year were temporary, their costs were added back into the 2013- 2014 fiscal year budget as expenditures, which required budget reductions of approximately $16.8 million in negotiated reductions. Once approved by the Legislature, the extra revenue generated by LCFF triggered the required restoration of $5.6 million in employee compensation cuts that were added into the 2013- 2014 budget and became the starting point for negotiated budget reductions. The negotiated Budget reductions needed to reach approximately $13.4 million." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The chart on page 2 is very clear- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- CUSD included $8.24 million in NEW LCFF revenue to the budget and used that to "trigger" salary restorations of %5.622 million before negotiating any contracts to cut $13.8 million for the 2013- 2014 Budget. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We now know that CUSD is not receiving any LCFF money this year. So my question to you is regarding the Adopted Budget and CUSD's contract with CUEA (Teachers) The approved contract includes $5.622 million in salary restorations when clearly the restorations have now not been triggered?
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Here is the link to Clark Hampton's Memo: http://capousd.ca.schoolloop.com/file/1218998864154/5983148645706375659.pdf
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Sorry again Dawn, but cherry picked quotes and questionable statistics provided by you are not enough to even pique my curiosity at this point. I'll let this one play out a bit. After all you are the one who insists that teachers are making more every year and backs it up by falsely applied statistical calculations and interpretations of your own. You still refuse to acknowledge errors in past conspiracy theories.
Capo Parent September 25, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Shelly CUSD stripped its finances to keep salaries and benefits up, that's why they are 90+ of the budget. Maybe if CUSD had cut benefits and salaries for awhile we would have smaller class sizes and schools that are adequately maintained. It's called simple math. Me thinks you should try it and forget about CC.
Capo Parent September 25, 2013 at 01:46 PM
FC I posted analysis and comments from education experts, including teachers and professors. As is your MO, you misread and misquote what I post. I never referenced Glen Beck as a source of information I rely on. A teacher who was critical of CC noted that he was on the same side as Glen Beck and Tea Party members. I would no more rely on "information" from Glen Beck than I would rely on "information" from you.
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Tonights Board meeting Agenda Items #22 (page 671) and #23 (page 673 ) State: "On June 27, 2013, the STate of California adopted a new state funding model for public schools, The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is significantly different than the current base revenue system. As a result, the state has informed districts that the actual funding formulas will not be available until 2014- 2015 school year."
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Here is the link to tonights Board Meeting Agenda: http://capousd.ca.schoolloop.com/file/1229223560406/1218998864154/905828674895629057.pdf
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 01:49 PM
So the result of this mess is that CUEA will probably get to keep the $5,622 million in Salary restorations - Teamsters- CUMA and CSEA will have to make up the new deficit created by the restoration and children will still have 3 furlough days. The only winner is the teachers union.
shelly September 25, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Capo Parent, The amount CUSD receives was cut significantly. Teachers and employees took cuts. They pay more into their benefits. The biggest cuts to the budget over the past five years has come from the employees of CUSD.
shelly September 25, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Capo Parent, Why resort to insults and personal shots. Why not just have a conversation?
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Capo parent, for every expert you quote I can google one that agrees with CCS. What we find ourselves doing these days is drawing a line in the sand and refusing to discuss and compromise on so many issues. If the CCS are here why not work with them, make adjustments as needed, and collaborate to develop a system that we can all live with. It requires give and take. It is also better served with respectful give and take. I realize that in some cases it is hard to respond respectfully. My own personal challenge is Dawn. Her continuous attract on teachers as villains prompts me to disrespect more than is productive.
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Final comment- Common Core was not suppose to be implemented until next year- but again- wanting money- the $10 million in special funding for Common Core is being used this year- $5 million for teacher training- $ 4 million for technology and $1 million for instructional materials- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Framework for Common Core Math will not even be ready until November 2013, the English framework will not even be ready until May 2014 and instructional materials will not be available until June 30, 2014? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/documents/ccsssysimpplanforcaapr13.doc‎
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Your final comment is erroneous. CCS has been under a multiyear implementation. The teacher training is ongoing this year in CUSD. It can't all be done instantaneously with a magic wand making it possible for training, tweeks, and full funding to happen simultaneously. But I am fine with it being your final one.
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 02:07 PM
In Response to Fact Checker who said: "Capo parent, for every expert you quote I can google one that agrees with CCS. What we find ourselves doing these days is drawing a line in the sand and refusing to discuss and compromise on so many issues. If the CCS are here why not work with them, make adjustments as needed, and collaborate to develop a system that we can all live with. It requires give and take." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ What give and take is there when an advanced student is denied advanced math? It is not acceptable for the Federal Government to limit Public Education to preparation for Community College. CUSD has never done that in the past and I am willing to bet- this option will be unacceptable to most parents who would like their child to attend and graduate from a four year college-
shelly September 25, 2013 at 02:22 PM
The previous CA standards prepared kids for community college, also. Students with goals to go to a 4 year university went beyond. AP classes, IB programs will still be offered and now students can even go beyond these courses and take courses at Saddleback during the day for college credit. There is no denial of advanced kids. Read the CA CC math standards. Advanced stats and Calc. are included.
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Dang it. Celebrated Dawn's final comment too soon.
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Oh Fact Checker- if you can't keep up with the debate- just try and shut down free speech.
fact checker September 25, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Whose shutting you down Dawn? You announced your departure and, even though I should know better, I believed you. Just for a sec.
shelly September 25, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Dawn, I don't believe she was trying to shut you down. Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 02:01 PM "Final comment-"
shelly September 25, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Dawn, So it is about politics, "It is not acceptable for the Federal Government to limit Public Education to preparation for Community College."
Dawn Urbanek September 25, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Shelly- Unfortunately Education has become a political pawn where our children are held hostage so that additional taxes can be raised. Look how Jerry Brown used Public Education to get Prop 30 Passed. There were two initiatives on the Ballot that would have provided additional funding for education. Prop 30 money went to the General Fund and has been used for other purposes. Molly Mungers tax initiative was never mentioned but was earmarked for education.
shelly September 25, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Dawn Urbanek, Prob. 30 prevented bigger cuts to education. The money from Prop. 30 goes to education. It was never going to prevent all cuts and it stated that clearly. Our current taxes do not cover everything you want, Dawn. It did once. The dollar amount coming to our district was cut. Molly Mungers was never mentioned by who? It ran ads every 5 minutes during that election. But now the conservative tea party band wagon is up in arms against common core because they believe it is messin' with states rights and they believe it came from Pres. Obama. Research the standards for yourself instead of just reading negative reviews. They may not be perfect but the former standards were not perfect either.
Dawn Urbanek September 26, 2013 at 12:05 AM
NOT TRUE-
shelly September 26, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Dawn, Research it for yourself instead of shouting about it. It is true.
fact checker September 26, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Is so Dawn.
Dawn Urbanek October 01, 2013 at 05:50 PM
I was finally able to up-load the Chart and I marked my concerns in red: http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/cusd-budget-contracts

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