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Calif. Backs Off Requirements In Testing Program's 1st Year

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The California school board has decided to give some slack to districts that want to take part in the first year of a new, voluntary basic-skills testing program.

The program offers districts an incentive payment of $5 per student if they participate. But it went into effect Jan. 1, and the launch of a large-scale testing program in the middle of a school year has created headaches for local officials. (See Education Week, May 15, 1995.)

To receive the incentive payments, districts must test students with an assessment from a list approved by the state and meet other requirements.

Some of the state's 999 districts are seeking waivers from some of the program's more stringent requirements, notably that they test every student in grades 2 through 10, regardless of disability or limited proficiency in English.

In emergency regulations adopted this month, the state board eased the requirement for testing all students. For example, districts may now apply to waive the testing of some special education students.

They may also get a waiver for testing those pupils with limited English skills who have not received at least 30 months of instruction, primarily in English, in the core curriculum. The board has approved tests for Spanish-speaking students.

The board is scheduled to decide on the waiver requests at its June meeting.

It also expanded the list of approved tests to include, among others, the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills survey test. Its exclusion from the original list had snarled testing plans in some districts.

--Millicent Lawton

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