California revises standardized testing content for 2014 exam

Ellie Berke - Staff Writer

The Las Virgenes Unified School District has recently decided to change the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exam by eliminating the 2014 test and then revising the common core standards for the 2015 school year.  Students will be tested on their critical thinking skills and their ability to apply knowledge as opposed to memorize course material.  The continuation of this method will depend on the student response to this type of standardized testing.

“I believe more conceptually-based tests allow students who are naturally intuitive but may have not learned the material to perform better on the test,” said senior Jake Grogin.  “I think the state of California is making this change in an effort to boost low test scores.”

LVUSD is implementing the new testing method in an effort to raise student scores across the district. They feel that these scores will result in a more accurate representation of students’ intelligence levels by assessing critical thinking.

Before these changes are made to the STAR test in 2014, LVUSD must fund a local education area plan (LEAP) to address the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy.  The regulations created by the new LEAP plan will go into effect in 2013 in response to recently low test scores among a larger than usual percentage of LVUSD students.

LVUSD is one of many schools attempting to reconstruct these regulations.  Eighty percent of Calif. schools are being required to amend their LEAP policies by the NCLB organization.  The new LEAP improvement plans are specifically directed to students who test below-average on standardized tests.  They will have no effect on LVUSD’s accreditation in regard to the acceptance of students into colleges and universities.

On the science section of the revised STAR test, students will likely be asked to analyze a lab using given information rather than answering questions based on memorized material.  For these questions, students will be asked to choose the best example that explains how they arrive at certain conclusions.

“I think that the history section of the test will probably be more writing-based during the 2014 year, but I will not be 100 percent sure of any definite changes until next year” said Advanced Placement Government and Honors U.S. History teacher Lance Novak.

The ultimate objective of the revised test will be to raise student scores to a “proficient” level.  Math and English scores must be at this level in order to meet NCLB standards.