California Governor Jerry Brown signed a host of education bills Wednesday that will help usher in Common Core State Standards, new content guidelines for K-12 classrooms across the country.
One piece of legislation in the 13-bill package, Assembly Bill 484, strips funding for pencil-and-paper, multiple-choice STAR testing and funds a trial period for the new computerized tests — titled Smarter Balanced — which better align with the Common Core. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has opposed AB 484 and issued a statement last month that threatened to withhold federal funding if the governor signed the bill because a federal law — No Child Left Behind — requires all students to be tested every year. Although Duncan supports the eventual transition toward statewide computerized tests, he said, “Letting the school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about the transition.”
Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent David Cash — speaking via phone from Sacramento — said California is moving in the “right direction” and that teachers at the district have been preparing for the transition for years. He said the district will prepare for AB 484 to be fully implemented, despite uncertainty from the feds.
Other bills signed by Brown last week address a slew of issues that include: installing carbon monoxide devices in classrooms; issuing local education bonds; adopting K-8 instructional material to complement the new standards; and ensuring that social science curriculum incorporates histories of Cesear Chavez, the farm labor movement, and Filipino Americans. A handful of the bills also call for the Instructional Quality Commission to consider incorporating mental health issues, Next Generation Science Standards, the Manga Carta, the Articles of Confederation, the California Constitution, and voter education into instruction for high schoolers.
Of the governor’s 2013-2014 budget, $1.25 billion pays for professional development, instructional materials, and technology to implement the new standards. For a complete list of the bills, go here here.