YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

California and the West

State Orders Stanford 9 Be Given Later

Education: In general, California students will be in school 18 days longer each year before taking the crucial standardized exam.


The State Board of Education on Thursday adopted new regulations that require schools to give the Stanford 9 exam later in the year so students spend more time in the classroom before facing the exam.

The change will cause headaches for many districts, forcing them to rearrange intricate schedules and seek new dates for other tests, such as the Golden State exams. The shift could also delay the release of statewide scores on the Stanford 9 basic skills exam, the sole component of California's fledgling school accountability program.

"Districts will be extremely inconvenienced, but it's the right thing to do for children and the curriculum," said John Mockler, state interim secretary for education. "We recognize the pain it will cause."

The change will most affect the relatively few districts that have tested their students early in the state-prescribed testing window. Until now, that has run from mid-March to mid-May. It is unclear how the new rules will play out in Los Angeles Unified and other districts that operate year-round schools.

About 4.4 million California children in grades 2 to 11 will take the Stanford 9 next spring. That standardized test, published by Harcourt Educational Measurement, measures the performance of students against a national sample. On top of that basic skills exam, California students answer questions specifically tied to the state standards in English-language arts, math, history and science.

In 2001, for the first time, results from the English language arts portion will figure in the state's Academic Performance Index, which ranks schools according to their test results and is the basis for hefty monetary rewards for teachers and campuses. State officials say results on the standards portions of the test will eventually outweigh the results of the Stanford 9 itself.

Under the new regulations, students on traditional calendars must have been in school 153 days--plus or minus 10--before taking the tests. Previously, students were supposed to have been in school for 135 days, plus or minus 10.

State officials said they wanted to give students as much time as possible to cover the standards before taking the tests. Increases in the number of school days before testing will vary by district. But state officials said students generally will be in school an additional 18 days before being tested.

The new rules also will narrow the testing window from 60 days to 20, so all students will cover about the same amount of material, regardless of the school they attend, officials said. "This is the beginning of equity," said Eugene Flores of Long Beach Unified, one of several school districts that sought the changes.

Robert Rayborn, who directs Harcourt's testing in California, said the later testing would postpone the date by which the firm could feed complete results to the state Education Department. That, in turn, he said, would force a delay in the public release of the data.

A Harcourt document provided to board members says the firm will give the data to the department for evaluation Aug. 8, with the department posting it Aug. 15, a month later than state law requires. Mockler said Gov. Gray Davis would back changing the law to allow for the later posting.

Los Angeles Times Articles