California Testing Battle

K-12 Testing

San Francisco Unified School District won a state court decision in May exempting the district from testing limited English proficient (LEP) students with the English-language Stan-ford 9 norm-referenced achievement test (NRT) (see Examiner, Spring 1998). Under the state law that created the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, all districts were required to test all their students in grades 2-11, even if the students could not read the exam. San Francisco's victory applies only within the city.


In late June, the Berkeley and Oakland districts won a temporary restraining order which prevented the state from reporting any district or school scores that included LEP students. The districts argued that such scores do not accurately reflect overall district performance, and that to separately post LEP scores would stigmatize those students who were tested in a language in which they are not fluent.


Since the order pertained only to the state, most districts reported their results, often with separate scores for LEP and non-LEP students. Districts also sent individual student reports to their parents, including those of non-English speaking students.


On July 16, a state superior court judge allowed the state to release all the scores, noting that since most districts had released scores, the information was now public. The judge also ruled that the state could not require districts to put individual scores of some LEP students in their academic files or require districts to make academic decisions based on these scores.


The STAR program has been criticized because the Stanford 9 is not matched to what students in California have been taught. Educators increasingly have pointed out that an all-multiple choice test cannot provide an adequate measure of what students are expected to learn.