Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat from San Diego, sponsored AB 2548.

Sending a strong message endorsing the school accountability system adopted by the State Board of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have placed more emphasis on standardized test scores in measuring school and district performance.

In a message issued Saturday in vetoing Assembly Bill 2548, Brown credited the state board for creating a “thoughtful and integrated federal, state and local accountability system” after spending two years listening to public opinion. The board has adopted a process for annually reviewing and improving the system, he wrote, adding, “It is unnecessary and premature to impose additional requirements at this time.”

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who authored the bill and is a former school board member, expressed disappointment with Brown’s veto. “My legislative colleagues and I are still convinced that we need to focus more on closing achievement gaps and making the information about school performance more accessible and usable for parents,” she said in a statement.

The new accountability system, which the state board adopted earlier this month, shifts from California’s near-total reliance on test scores to measure how well schools and districts are doing to one based on a half-dozen measures, including non-academic measures.

Under the new accountability system, test scores on math, English language arts and, eventually, science will be included as key indicators of performance. Others will be rates of high school graduation, student suspensions and chronic absenteeism; how effectively English learners have learned English; and how prepared students are for pursuing college and careers. Districts will receive assistance if ethnic, racial and other students subgroups performed poorly in one or more of the measures.

Districts will also be held accountable for creating their measures of parent engagement, school climate and the rollout of the state’s new academic standards.

Legislators laid out multiple measures of accountability three years ago in the Local Control Funding Formula. They reaffirmed that intent in overwhelmingly approving Weber’s bill.

But the bill also said that more weight should be given to test scores when deciding which low-performing districts and schools should be singled out for state help. The law would have required that academic indicators of performance “receive substantial weight and, in aggregate, much greater weight than is afforded to all other indicators.”

The bill also would have required the state to come up with a simpler way of summarizing performance that enabled parents to easily compare their schools and districts with others.

The state board has not completed the final layout of annual “report cards” intended to show how well or poorly a school or district is doing. The latest version is fairly complex. It lists color-coded results of all measures of school and district performance, along with the results of ethnic, racial and other student subgroups on every measure.

Brown’s veto may not end the issue. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which Congress passed last December, mandates that states provide extensive help to the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools.

In draft regulations to implement the law, the U.S. Department of Education wants to require that academic achievement measures be the main determinant of which schools need help, and that reports on school performance summarize how a school is doing with a single number, category or index.

However, state board President Michael Kirst and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson opposed several of those regulations in a letter to the department.

Weber’s bill  incorporated the requirements of the draft federal regulations. That is one reason the state’s Department of Finance, which typically reflects Gov. Brown’s views, opposed the bill.

In statements Sunday, Children Now and Education Trust-West, two nonprofit student advocacy groups that co-sponsored AB 2548, said that they would continue to press for including elements of the bill in the state’s plan for complying with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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  1. Paul Muench 12 months ago12 months ago

    Better to let businesses handle these minor ease of use issues. Good choice by Governor Brown.

  2. Bill Younglove 12 months ago12 months ago

    Hooray! With all due respect to Assemblywoman Weber and her background and expertise, we must continue to raise, as did one State Board of Education member at the Student Achievement Gap Summit in Sacramento several years ago, whether we have an "achievement gap" or a "testing gap." If it is the latter – and the instrument(s) used to measure student achievement are inadequate to the task – then to add more (particularly standardized) testing to … Read More

    Hooray! With all due respect to Assemblywoman Weber and her background and expertise, we must continue to raise, as did one State Board of Education member at the Student Achievement Gap Summit in Sacramento several years ago, whether we have an “achievement gap” or a “testing gap.” If it is the latter – and the instrument(s) used to measure student achievement are inadequate to the task – then to add more (particularly standardized) testing to the mix is really double jeopardy for our students.

  3. F Terrence Grier 12 months ago12 months ago

    Standardized tests are not valid nor reliable, period…nor valid measure of student performance.

    Former testing and evaluation specialist.

  4. Bruce William Smith 12 months ago12 months ago

    Governor Brown is right in vetoing this bill and opposing the draft federal regulations of the "Every Student Succeeds" act; but because ESSA insists on continuing with No Child Left Behind's adoption of Prime Minister Thatcher's strategy of publishing the outcomes of required annual testing, with an obsessive testing frequency even Mrs Thatcher never contemplated, California's families should join others around the country in opting out of state schooling until the federalization of America's state … Read More

    Governor Brown is right in vetoing this bill and opposing the draft federal regulations of the “Every Student Succeeds” act; but because ESSA insists on continuing with No Child Left Behind’s adoption of Prime Minister Thatcher’s strategy of publishing the outcomes of required annual testing, with an obsessive testing frequency even Mrs Thatcher never contemplated, California’s families should join others around the country in opting out of state schooling until the federalization of America’s state schools ends with the expiration of the Obama education department and the misrule of law it is responsible for.

    Replies

    • Victor Gonzalez, Ed.D. 12 months ago12 months ago

      It was Bush that launched NCLB…

      • Floyd Thursby 12 months ago12 months ago

        About the only good thing he did. He made us aware of the achievement gap. Unfortunately we as a society still care more about not hurting anyone's feelings by discussing family effort and not offending adult interest groups like the union than actually closing the gap. But at least the conversation is started. It's Bush that showed us low income Asians outperform non-low income members of every other group. We … Read More

        About the only good thing he did. He made us aware of the achievement gap. Unfortunately we as a society still care more about not hurting anyone’s feelings by discussing family effort and not offending adult interest groups like the union than actually closing the gap. But at least the conversation is started. It’s Bush that showed us low income Asians outperform non-low income members of every other group. We can learn from that how to change our entire culture and homelife and close the gap for other groups. If every other group reaches the level of just poor Asians, America’s problems are well behind us. All of them, because it impacts income, crime, family, etc.

      • Bruce William Smith 12 months ago12 months ago

        Bush's NCLB followed on his "Texas education miracle" started when he was governor there, but his wasn't the only or the first state to implement a strategy of test-based accountability; England had made publishing league tables -- that is, testing the kids, publishing average school results, and thereby expecting market incentives to improve teaching -- state policy in the 1980s, a strategy subsequently copied by American states; and the UK is now the only developed … Read More

        Bush’s NCLB followed on his “Texas education miracle” started when he was governor there, but his wasn’t the only or the first state to implement a strategy of test-based accountability; England had made publishing league tables — that is, testing the kids, publishing average school results, and thereby expecting market incentives to improve teaching — state policy in the 1980s, a strategy subsequently copied by American states; and the UK is now the only developed nation with less social mobility than the United States, and is pretty much the only one where the older generation is actually more competent (in terms defined by the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) than the younger.

  5. Floyd Thursby 12 months ago12 months ago

    Lifelong Democrat…getting harder and harder to be one. I’m so disappointed in Brown. No independence. Just fealty.