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Effort Afoot to Streamline Grade 11 Testing

Proposed state legislation that would allow school districts to administer a nationally recognized test such as the SAT instead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test in Grade 11 was introduced in Sacramento last week.  The Pathways to College Act (Assembly Bill 1951), is authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D – Long Beach).

“As a teacher for more than 20 years and as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I know this will reduce testing time and provide teachers and students more time to bridge the gap in learning,”  Assemblymember O’Donnell said at a news conference, where he was joined by Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education President Megan Kerr and Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser.

Students in LBUSD already take the PSAT and SAT during the school day at no cost because LBUSD allocates some of its funds for these purposes.  Even so, 11th graders here still must also take the SBAC.  The proposed legislation would provide resources for school districts statewide to offer college entrance tests like the SAT or ACT, allowing those exams to substitute for the SBAC.

“By providing local control, AB 1951 allows educators to offer college assessment and career resources, better preparing students for college as early as the 8th grade,” Board President Kerr said.  “The Pathways to College Act opens doors for all students to have college and career choices by making college admissions testing more accessible and affordable.”

Superintendent Steinhauser worked with O’Donnell on the legislation.

“The SAT is more meaningful and relevant to students and parents because it’s the main test affecting college admission nationally,” Steinhauser said.  “The PSAT and SAT also allow our students to take advantage of free, customized support including online tutorials through Khan Academy.”

About a dozen other states have used or plan to use a college entrance exam as an alternative assessment to meet state and federal requirements for grade 11 testing.

If enacted, the California bill would take effect in the 2019-20 school year.