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New California State Law Addresses School Performance

Standardized tests won’t be the only factor in how students are evaluated due to a new law that took effect Tuesday.

One of the 876 new laws Gov. Jerry Brown signed during the last legislative session, SB1458 adds graduation rates and college-going rates to the evaluation process, in addition to the Academic Performance Index .

Up until last year, school API scores were the sole benchmark for academic evaluation, which some local officials say provided an inadequate picture of progress.

“If you look at any test, they give you one picture, not how students are progressing,” said Gloria Mercado-Fortine, member of the William S. Hart Union High School District board. “I think it should be a combination.”

All students cannot be evaluated the same way because students, such as those with disabilities or those who do not speak English as their primary language, face different obstacles, Mercado-Fortine said.

“It’s not that we’re lowering our standards, but it’s important that you can’t lump everyone into one group,” she said.

“It’s unfair to schools, (they) can be doing a lot of great things and the kids can be learning -- but sometimes, if you’re solely looking at (standardized tests), it doesn’t give you that picture,” Mercado-Fortine said.

It may take time to fully understand how the new law will affect the evaluation process, she said.

“Laws go through many changes until they’re implemented -- in concept, it sounds great,” Mercado-Fortine said. “Once we take a look at those regulations and how it’s rolled out, we’ll get a better picture. Otherwise, we’ll be cautious about it."