Parts of CLAS Tests to Be Available for Public Viewing


Portions of the controversial new tests for public school students will be available for public viewing later this month at the Orange County Department of Education.

Responding to a barrage of criticism from parents, school board members and conservative activists throughout California, the state Department of Education decided earlier this spring to release the English/language arts segments of the California Learning Assessment System to the public. Copies will be available for viewing for one month at 41 locations starting July 18.

More than 1 million students in 7,500 public schools took the reading, writing, math, science and history tests this spring at a cost of $26 million. But only the language arts portions of the fourth-, eighth- and 10th-grade exams will be distributed to the viewing sites, because those are the segments that created the most debate. The literature selections upon which the test questions are based will not be released, because they are protected by authors’ copyrights.


Intended to evaluate students’ thought processes as well as their ability to derive correct answers, CLAS measures student achievement against statewide performance levels.

Critics contend that the new exams violate state law by questioning students about moral issues without parental permission, and that the questions are too personal and too vague for CLAS to serve as a valid testing tool.

According to a memo from the state education department, each viewing site will have on hand:

* a complete, bound set of the English/language arts exams;

* selected student work and commentaries;

* a student information form and explanation;

* scoring guides and summary of performance levels;

* a public response form;

* CLAS brochures and fact sheets; and

* state curriculum guides for English/language arts, and pamphlets for parents in English and Spanish about the curriculum.

State officials have instructed administrators to have a specially trained person present during all viewing times.

In Orange County, people wishing to view the tests can contact Jane Periolat, Building B, Room 1031, Orange County Department of Education, 200 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, 92627, (714) 966-4331.