State Launches New Website for Standardized Tests

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 20, 2009 - 11:16:00 AM

The California Department of Education Friday launched a new website to help parents and teachers understand the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program better. 

The STAR Program is a statewide standardized test given to measure student performance levels at public schools. 

Concerns from parents and teachers about how they could understand the test better prompted the state Department of Education and the State Board of Education to design a new website, www.starsamplequestions.org, which includes dozens of actual test questions students have faced in every grade. 

Dr. Yvonne Chan, a member of the State Board of Education, said that “Parents and teachers can be better partners in helping students succeed if we demystify our assessments and what we are asking students to demonstrate when they take the state tests.”  

Chan strongly encouraged school districts to use the link on their websites. 

The new website is easily navigable, has a search feature and includes information about the state’s expectations of student performance as well who is eligible to take the tests. The site also offers guidelines for parents according to grade-level which are easily printable. 

   At focus groups held by state officials to find out what information would be helpful to parents, teachers and community members, and figure out the best way to communicate it, parents stressed that they wanted to gather their own information about the STAR Program at their own convenience. Although the amount of information requested varied, parents on the whole wanted to access clear and concise information whenever possible. 

The results for California's 2008 STAR Program show a higher percentage of students in the Berkeley Unified School District scored proficient or above in reading, writing and mathematics as compared with the state results.  

The state education department is scheduled to release the results of the 2009 STAR Program next week.