Poll: Should State Test for Critical Thinking More Than Knowledge, Skills?

Recommendations for Transitioning
California to a Future Assessment System

The STAR system of standardized testing in California public schools is being scrapped, the state superintendent of public instruction said Tuesday. In its place, says Superintendent Tom Torlakson, is something that should require “students to think critically, solve problems, and show a greater depth of knowledge.”

In a report issued Tuesday [see attached PDF], Torlakson made a dozen recommendations. They would replace the paper-and-pencil based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program assessments with computerized assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium starting in the 2014‒15 school year.

“Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore, and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college,” Torlakson said.

“As a teacher, what’s most exciting is that these new tests will serve as models for the kind of high-quality teaching and learning we want in every classroom every day,” he said. “The concept is simple but powerful: If our tests require students to think critically and solve problems to do well on test day, those same skills are much more likely to be taught in our classrooms day in and day out.”

U-T San Diego reported that “some schools, including 30 in San Diego, are scheduled to administer drafts of the tests to students this spring as part of a pilot project.”

Torlakson’s office said the report was mandated by Assembly Bill 250 [see attached PDF], which bring school curriculum, instruction and the state assessment system into alignment with the Common Core State Standards. The state’s existing STAR Program assessments are scheduled to sunset July 1, 2014.

“California is one of 45 states and three territories that formally have adopted the CCSS for mathematics and English‒language arts,” said his office. “The proposed revisions to align the state’s assessment system with the new standards mark a key milestone in implementing the Common Core.”

Good move? Or was old system doing the right job?


  • abnormal

    What do you think of the 2012 Texas GOP platform?
    I took a look at it and I really don’t like a lot of the items they have listed. In my opinion, The GOP platform is a bad thing for the state and the country. The items i’ve listed have no clear benefits for citizens, or are just terribly regressive and based on rhetoric rather than knowledge. I welcome comments from people who believe the platform is a good one.

    1. "We oppose sale and use of the dangerous ‘Morning After Pill.’"

    for clarification, the morning after pill is actually quite safe and contrary to some loudly stated opinions, it does not actually cause abortion. What it actually does, is it delays the release of the egg so that sperm never have the chance to fertilize it. Of course, this means that it is ineffective if the egg has already been released, which is why you hear stories about people getting pregnant while on birth control. Here is an article:
    The gop is either misinformed, or willfully ignorant as to how different forms of BC operates.

    2. : "We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized."

    The voter rights act attempts to prohibit practices that attempt to disenfranchise target groups of people. Things like poll taxes that not everyone could pay in the 60s. Or literacy tests, at a time when illiteracy was much higher among certain demographics. Repealing this law would allow the government to set up any kind of ridiculous prerequisite they want in order to discourage or prevent a group of people from voting.

    3. "We believe in the sanctity of marriage and that the integrity of this institution should be protected at all levels of government. We urge the Legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws. We support Covenant Marriage."

    4. "We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

    5. "We support eliminating bureaucratic prohibitions on corporal discipline and home schooling in foster homes. We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems. Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas… We oppose actions of social agencies to classify traditional methods of discipline, including corporal punishment, as child abuse."

    6. "We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from U.S. soil."

    7. "Our policy is based on God’s biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise."

    8. "We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed."

    9. "We urge Congress to repeal government sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development."

    10. "We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups."

    and finally:

    11. "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that. have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

    In what way does the absence of critical thinking amongst our citizens improve society? Why are the people in texas so anti-intellectual? All this will do is create a generation of kids who can’t think for themselves, allowing those in charge to do all the thinking for them.

    Here is the full platform: There are some good ideas as well but I think the bad really outweighs the good.


  • bob n

    They are returning to the 1950’s and trying to legislate morals. Giant steps backward because they have no forward thinking plans.
    References :
    The Lone Ranger rides again but without Tonto.

  • Liberal

    This is one of the most radical and dangerous political platforms in American political history. That’s my opinion.
    References :

  • JBF

    1. Psuedo-scientific Christian mumbo-jubmo.
    2. No thanks
    3. See #1
    4. Not familiar with that particular convention so will withold judgement
    5. Corporal punishment is the Chimpanzee part of the brain at work
    6. I’m not one of those NWO fearmongers so no, I do’t buy into this
    7. See #1
    8. It should actually. The minimum wage is well intended (these things always are) but extremely harmful. As a practical matter the country would be better off without it.
    9. I am going to take a wild guess they are specifically after sex ed?
    10. See#1
    11. Of course Christians would oppose teaching critical thinking. God forbid people should actually be capable of indpendent thought. Where did that apple come from that Adam wasn’t supposed to eat? Tree of knowledge anyone?
    References :

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