CALPADS put on iceBrown wants full review of testing and data
Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to suspend funding for CALPADS, the state student longitudinal data system, and to stop further planning for CALTIDES, the teacher data base that was to be joined at the hip with CALPADS. That big piece of education news was tucked away in May Revision of the state budget that Brown presented on Monday.
Like his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brown has been critical of CALPADS, which is a year behind schedule. Consultants hired by the Department of Education have sharply criticized state oversight of the system and its builder, IBM. But unlike Schwarzenegger, who believed in CALPADS’ mission, Brown is skeptical of the value of collecting extensive data on schools and individual students’ achievement and of standardized testing itself. He wants to use the hiatus, he says in a summary of the proposed education budget (page 7), by “carefully reforming testing and accountability requirements to achieve genuine accountability and maximum local autonomy.”
Brown says his administration (presumably through the State Board of Education) will involve parents, scholars, teachers and administrators to develop policies that will reduce the time devoted to standardized testing, eliminate data collecting that’s not useful to local schools, and “restore power to school administrators, teachers and parents” (whatever that means).
Brown’s ambivalence, which he expressed to the State Board during an impromptu visit in January, comes at a time when the State Board must decide how to renew the contract for the California Standardized Tests and whether to join either or both consortiums of states designing new assessments for the Common Core standards in English language arts and math.
The suspension of work on CALPADS and CALTIDES will eliminate nine jobs funded by about $3.5 million in federal money. CALPADS was established as a way of collecting accountability data required by the federal government. That job will be done by another data system, the California Basic Educational Data System, that existed before CALPADS.
Many advocates of reform had high hopes for the research that CALPADS would provide. Oakland-based Education Trust-West said it was “deeply concerned” about the suspension of funding for the system.
“Without an education data system, it is impossible to make informed decisions on behalf of students as we spend scarce education resources,” the organization said in a statement. “A step away from CALPADS is a step away from the increased transparency and accountability that is vital to ongoing community support for our public schools.”
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