A plan to suspend California's standardized testing for certain grades while new computerized exams are developed could save $15 million, the state's top education official said.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recommended to the state Board of Education last week that the savings be used instead to develop higher-quality tests linked to new uniform but voluntary academic standards. They have been adopted by 45 states, including California, which plans to roll them out in the 2014-15 school year.
The new standards are aimed at fostering more critical thinking, sophisticated writing and other higher-level skills.
"Rather than continuing to spend scarce dollars and precious class time on outdated testing, we can invest these resources in developing the next generation of assessments that will help students focus on critical thinking and problem-solving — the skills they will need in college and their careers," Torlakson said in a statement.
But some analysts have estimated that it could cost as much as $1 billion for the textbooks, teacher training and technology needed for computerized tests related to the new standards. As a result of such concerns, state Sen. Carol Liu (D-Glendale) has proposed delaying the suspension of current tests until 2016.