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Calif. Senate OKs bill to reduce reliance on pupil tests to determine school performance
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SACRAMENTO (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker is trying again to make California schools less dependent on student testing after a similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the state's school accountability system is currently too narrow and relies too much on standardized testing. Under his bill, SB1458, student test scores would count for no more than 40 percent of a school's performance ranking, known as the Academic Performance Index.

His bill passed out of the Senate on a 24-10 vote Tuesday and goes to the Assembly.

Steinberg is making changes after Brown vetoed his bill last year. The Democratic governor said he did not believe Steinberg's proposal would make schools better.

"Adding more speedometers to a broken car won't turn it into a high-performance machine," Brown wrote in his veto message.

Steinberg's previous bill, SB547, would also limit standardized test scores to no more than 40 percent of a school's performance, but it would have renamed the measurement as the Education Quality Index. Currently, test scores constitute 100 percent of a school's performance.

The new bill gives state education officials more flexibility in deciding what new indicators are used to measure a school's performance. It authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction, with approval of the state Board of Education, to add measures of how well students are prepared for both college and careers.

SB1458 would also require the state superintendent to make recommendations for increasing student performance in science and social science. It authorizes local school quality review panels that the governor supports.

Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, said the state needs to deliver a rigorous curriculum but also prepare students for competitive careers if they choose not to go to college.

"Plain and simple: Unless we change what counts, school districts and schools will not have the incentive to develop the curriculum that is both rigorous and more career oriented," Steinberg said before the vote. "That ought to be our goal as a state: Prepare young people for college but also prepare young people for the workforce."

Brown's spokesman, Gil Duran, said the governor doesn't comment on bills until they arrive on his desk.