California Resistance Grows

K-12 Testing

The Los Angeles Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) has designated May 2002 as a “Month of Action against Racist Testing and for Educational Justice.” CEJ is collaborating with labor and community groups, as well as local school board members, to stage a series of activities to raise awareness about the harmful uses of standardized tests and protest high-stakes testing mandates and the racism inherent in those policies.


One component will be a proposal for the school board to research the use of alternative assessments. Another possible initiative would call on the district to stop administering high-stakes tests, including those required by the state.


Together with groups organizing test-resistance activities in other areas of the state, CEJ hopes to pressure Governor Davis to address high-stakes testing and school finance equity in his upcoming re-election campaign. CEJ materials are available at


Another group, Californians for Justice, organized a statewide meeting this winter in Long Beach. Some 400 students, educators, advocates, attorneys and researchers gathered to strategize opposition to the state’s impending high-stakes graduation test.


The California Federation of Teachers has mounted a statewide petition campaign that opposes the use of the state mandated SAT9/STAR test, and calls for abolition of the state Academic Performance Index (API) teacher award program. API grants bonuses to individual teachers at schools where STAR scores improve the most. The petition drive began as a local effort by ARN affiliate School Voices. The petition also calls for the use of multiple and authentic assessments and better funding of teacher training, school facilities, and curriculum development.


The California legislature recently announced that the API awards program would be temporarily suspended due to a state budget shortfall. Last year, bonuses worth $100 million were awarded to teachers. While proponents of the plan claim the rewards are necessary to motivate teachers to work harder, many teachers called the rewards “bribes” and criticized the program for fostering competition and divisiveness among teaching staff. Some educators protested by donating their awards to a variety of school improvement efforts, including local ARN affiliates in California organizing to reform the state assessment system.