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Torlakson announces broadband grants for 33 LAUSD schools

LA School Report | January 7, 2015

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Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 227 school sites, including 33 in LA Unified, will share nearly $27 million in Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grants (BIIG) to help school districts increase their ability to administer the state’s new online tests this spring.

“These state grants provide the critical last step needed to connect an additional 63,000 students to the state education network that will give them access to technology, which will prepare them for college and careers, and let them take the new computer-based California assessments,” Torlakson said in a press release.

The Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Field Test is scheduled to be administered by the district in the spring, although it is still unclear if the results will be used. Over the winter break, the LA Unified ordered 21,000 iPad Airs and 6,000 Chromebooks, at a cost of $13 million, to help administer the test, bringing the number of testing iPads the district owns at just over 73,000.

During practice tests last spring, about 300 schools in the state either lacked the ability administer the test or were able to only accommodate the tests by shutting down all other online activities, according to Torlakson’s office. Of these 300 sites, 227 will be awarded BIIG funding.

“While school sites with the most need were selected to receive the grants, this process has provided further data to help those schools that didn’t receive funding at this time,” Imperial County Superintendent of Schools Todd Finnell, whose agency administers the K12HSN program, said in a press release. “Additional work is needed to secure funding and identify possible solutions for these schools.”

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