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TOUGH TESTS SURPASSING STANFORD 9.

Byline: Helen Gao Staff Writer

After five years of dominating center stage in the state's school reform and accountability movement, the Stanford 9 Achievement Test will play a far smaller role in determining rewards and penalties for schools.

When the California Standards Tests results are released today, they will become the dominant yardstick by which student achievement is measured statewide.

``The California Standards Tests are harder, more rigorous than the Stanford 9,'' said Bob Anderson, an assessment administrator with the state Department of Education. ``We have set ourselves a new goal.''

The Stanford 9, a basic-skills test for students in grades two through 11, will be replaced by a new exam called the California Achievement Test that will take half the time of the previous 5-hour-long assessment.

Starting next spring, students will take the new CAT 6 in addition to the California Standards Tests, which are aligned to state-adopted curriculum standards in English-language arts, mathematics, history-social science and science.

Results from the standards tests will be used primarily to calculate each school's Academic Performance Index, a numeric ranking of school achievement which determines monetary rewards. Until this year, the Stanford 9 was heavily used.

The standards tests, which have been gradually phased in since 1999, are dramatically different from the Stanford 9.

The Stanford 9 is a norm-referenced test by which the results of student achievement in California are compared with a national sample of students in the same grade. The test was not designed with state standards in mind.

And whereas the Stanford 9 gives students a percentile score, with the 50th percentile being the national average, the standards tests categorize performance by five levels: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and far below basic, with proficient being the goal.

``Because we are using proficient level as our goal, it looks somehow as if performance is lower,'' Anderson said. ``In fact, it's the same performance as on any of the other tests. We have just set the bar higher.''

Esther Wong, assistant superintendent of planning, assessment and research for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said the standards tests are a superior assessment tool than the Stanford 9.

``It's more diagnostic and bears a direct relationship on what is being taught in the classroom,'' she said.

Because Los Angeles Unified students at the elementary schools have shown growth year after year on the Stanford 9, Wong predicts similar improvement on the standards tests.

``We are hoping that our elementary grades will show improvement that is consistent with what the Stanford 9 is showing us. If there is growth there, we should see growth in content standards tests,'' she said.

However, in the secondary level, district officials predict the standards tests scores will be virtually flat, paralleling the Stanford 9 results.

In the past few years, the district has undertaken a major initiative aligning elementary English and math courses with state standards. Schools bought new textbooks and teachers received additional training.

And this year, the district also began enacting a secondary literacy plan to bring middle and high school curricula in line with state standards.

CALIFORNIA STANDARDS TESTS

The California Standards Tests, which measure what students are learning in the classroom, are taking on greater relevance as the state fine-tunes how it measures school performance. Beginning this year, the standards tests scores will comprise the majority of the calculation for each school's Academic Performance Index. Here are the subjects and grade levels for the standards tests:

English-language arts: Grades 2-11

Math: Grades 2-9

Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II

or 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-year integrated math: Grades 8-11

High school math: Grades 9-11

History-social science: Grades 9-11

Earth science, biology, chemistry, physics or integrated science courses: Grades 9-11

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CALIFORNIA STANDARDS TESTS (see text)
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 29, 2002
Words:625
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