UPDATE, March 7, 2014: In a letter today from the U.S. Dept. of Education, California given the win in the standoff over the issues of suspending standardized testing in order to move more rapidly ito the world of Common Core. (Six months ago, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said federal funds could be withdrawn [see story below the jump] if California suspended standardized testing.)As reported earlier today by Michele McNeil in EdWeek:
...California has successfully negotiated a waiver that will allow it to largely ditch its state tests this spring in favor of giving only common-core-aligned field tests to about 3 million students.
In a letter sent to state officials today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his team agreed with the state's testing plan without any significant caveats.
California was on a path to scrapping its state testing system anyway, regardless of what federal officials decided, so this waiver means that state officials won't be running afoul of the [DOE] or risking the loss of Title I money for violating the law.(See history of conflict below.) Later this month, the state will give the full version of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium field tests to a small portion of students, and a shortened version to the rest of its students. The state will continue to give an exit exam in high school....The waiver would allow California, the largest state with the largest population of English-learners, to largely deviate from this; the field tests aren't designed to easily produce data that can be used for accountability. By design, field tests are largely experimental and used, in part, to "test the tests."...
In a joint release, CA's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the president of the State Board of Education, Michael Kirst, said:
"Approval of this waiver could not have come at a better time. In little more than a week, some three million students will begin the largest field test of these new assessments of any state in the nation.
"This is an important moment for California. Across the state, there's a new spirit of hope and optimism in our schools as they take on this challenging transformation. There are concerns as well, and there are sure to be challenges as we move ahead.
But California has always led the way, and our teachers, administrators, and school employees have always been willing to meet any challenge to help our students succeed.
“Today’s action by the Obama Administration represents a welcome vote of confidence in the course we've set toward providing all students the world-class education they need and deserve."
UPDATE, September 19, 2013: As reported yesterday on EdSource, the U.S. Dept. of Education made it clear on Tuesday that it will not grant California a waiver to suspend standarized testing in order to move more rapidly into the world of Common Core. CA's education leaders, state supe of public instruction Tom Torlakson and president of the state board of education, Michael Kirst, stood by AB 484 (see below), which is awaiting Brown's signature into law. The ed authorities, in a joint press release said "...downplayed the potential conflict and indicated they’d do damage control to minimize unspecified penalties the state may face for failing to follow testing requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law.," according to EdSource's John Fensterwald.