History social science in California is one of the subjects the state is considering assessing as it looks to expand ‘beyond’ the ‘Smarter Balanced’ assessments in English and math. On Tuesday March 17 the Department of Education (CDE) and Educational Testing Service (ETS) had their first meeting to get a sense 'from the field' about wishes and comments about possible future social studies assessment. Divided into focus groups, teachers and other educators brainstormed both ideas for new assessments and critiques (of the old California Standards Tests). Observations and comments from this and a second meeting on Wednesday March 18, will ultimately go to State Superintendent Torlakson. His office is tasked to report to the Legislature and State Board about assessments in subjects other than English language arts and math (and the three years of science required by the federal ESEA) that would test 'the whole curriculum', in the words of the legislation requiring the report.
There were a general range of comments to the effect that the focus of any future assessment should stress processes (analysis, writing, debates, for example) and not so much specific content recall. There was mention of the 'C3' framework as a possible guide. There was considerable discussion of technology, from on line testing to and including 'robo-scoring' of student essays and interactive types of immediate responses to students allowing for both instant reporting and instant adaption of the assessments based on student responses.
CDE will compile the comments and observations made at this first meeting and go forward with next steps, which will include an on line survey open to educators in particular. The survey will be announced here, along with the URL, as soon as CDE posts it.