In education, students this coming year will be the last group to take the California Standards Test, and all parents, teachers and students everywhere should rejoice.
The CST was part of the accountability movement that began in the early 2000s. Like so many things in education, it began with a good idea and was ruined with excess.
Our students in public education attend school 180 days a year. This test consumes about two weeks and takes away a great deal of instructional time. Often, because of the particulars of the test, a small segment of the student population may be testing while the rest of the students have to be occupied with non-teaching-related activities.
The CST testing will be replaced with what is known as Common Core. Common Core testing will move students away from endless multiple-choice tests, which often do not test higher critical-thinking skills. The test will be more essay based, and the students will actually have to explain their thinking.
Another improvement is that this test will be administered only in the third, eighth and 11th grades, while the existing CST is given every year in every grade.
This will allow more instructional time and give a better balance between the necessity of assessing progress and maximizing instructional time. This is something we should all applaud.
Scott Hurban, Tracy