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Administering New State Test

June 07, 1988

In response to "New State Test Format Should Show Precisely How California Students Measure Up," by Thomas C. Boysen, Op-Ed Page, May 6:

Certainly, Boysen, superintendent for schools for San Diego County, is correct in stating that norm tests administered in our schools need to be updated and that the authenticity of many test scores is questionable. But in his praise for the development of the CAS (Comprehensive Assessment System) tests, it is obvious that Boysen was not in the classroom administering these tests, nor was he coordinating the administration of CAS at a school.

Over the last three weeks, 25 districts across the state administered the CAS. While one of the stated objectives of the CAS was to save time spent on testing, the reality of the program at the eighth grade level was subjecting students to a series of seven time-consuming tests which included a writing assessment and six objective subject matter tests. Some schools were able to complete the testing in three days. But, to do this they subjected their students to the equivalent of final exam week at college. Is that the state's intent? Our schedule was in turmoil for three weeks as we attempted to schedule testing into the optimal testing hours and around other activities which we value at our school. Activities such as honoring students' academic achievement, parent conferences, a student film festival, and choral adjudication, which provide our parents and community alternate methods of assessing the success of our school to test scores.

Another logistical issue of the CAS was security. I do not question the need, but the methodology. Finding and training proctors for the over 90 testing sessions at our school was in itself a formidable task. It hardly seems like an appropriate use of categorically funded aides or teachers' preparation time to sit to proctor testing.

Aside from the logistics, there is the issue of the quality of the testing materials. Pages were missing and questions were mis-numbered, answer sheets were incorrect, and the directions given to the test administrators and proctors were abysmal.

Before I can share Boysen's praise for CAS, the program will have to be greatly refined. I hope the state uses a portion of its proposed budgeted $750,000 for simplification and improved quality control as it moves all the districts in the state to the CAS.

SANDRA M. ULRICH

Test Coordinator

Rincon Intermediate School

West Covina

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