Hesitating to fully embrace a nationwide campaign to bolster schools' accountability, California has turned up its nose at federal carrots and now wants a reprieve from Uncle Sam's stick -- an entreaty that has so infuriated the Obama administration that it is threatening to withhold federal money from the state's schools.
Despite ostensibly working toward the same goal to improve public education, especially for disadvantaged children, Sacramento has resisted the changes in school accountability and teacher evaluation sought by Washington.
On Tuesday, the state Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a bill that creates a new state testing regimen -- one supporters heralded as promoting more meaningful learning, and less drill and memorization. Known as MAPP, the exams will be field-tested by some schools in the spring.
But the bill -- expected to pass the Assembly and be signed into law -- will let California ditch its STAR tests, the mainstay of its school accountability system. For more than a decade, public schools each spring have administered the standardized tests, which generate scores widely used to judge the success of schools and districts.