California’s key measure of public school quality will be redefined to lessen the impact of standardized test scores under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The law, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), will broaden how the Academic Performance Index is calculated by limiting test scores to 60% for high schools and including graduation rates and other factors.
The 1,000-point index, which is currently based entirely on student test scores, has been criticized as an inaccurate gauge of campus quality even as it is widely used by parents to choose schools and real estate agents to sell homes.
“For years, ‘teaching to the test’ has become more than a worn cliche because 100% of the API relied on bubble tests scores in limited subject areas,” Steinberg said in a statement. “But life is not a bubble test and that system has failed our kids.”
Test scores must count for at least 60% of the API for elementary and middle schools, where alternative data are less developed.
Under the new law, the state Board of Education will work with the state superintendent of public instruction to incorporate other factors into the index, such as student readiness for college and technical training. The law specifies an increased emphasis on science and social science, which carry little weight in the current API. (Read more.)