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Torlakson cheers arrival of Smarter Balanced testing era

Craig Clough | March 10, 2015



Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson at LACES

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called today an “exciting day” as students around the state began taking the new online, Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced test.

Torlakson kicked off new testing era for the state expressing enthusiasm and confidence in the new testing system, which he called an “academic checkup.”

Fifty-eight thousand students were scheduled to take the test today, and 1.2 million are expected to take it by the end of the school year, Torlakson said. The test will be administered statewide to public school students in grades 3-8 and 11 before the end of the school year.

Whether or not this year’s test results will be used to charter academic accountability will be determined by the State Board of Education tomorrow, and Torlakson declined to predict how the board may decide. Torlakson and LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines have both asked the board to not use the results this year as kinks in administering the test are worked out.

A recent practice run of 775 schools at LA Unified found that one third of them were unable to access the test online.

“We are more ready than we were last year, “Torlakson said when asked about the readiness of districts. The state did administer the test last year but did not use the results to track accountability. He added, “We found out where the technology had shortcomings. Districts since then have diligently invested in additional bandwidth and technological preparedness … Are we perfectly ready evenly ready across the state? I couldn’t say that.”

Cynthia Lim, executive director of the district’s Office of Data and Accountability told the LA Unified school today that 94 schools started testing today, with 6,000 students participating.
Schools so far reported “no major issues,” Lim said, and added that 73 more schools will take test next week and 201 will in early April. Overall, LA Unified elementary and middle school students will take the Smarter Balanced test between today and June 4, and 11th grade students are scheduled to take from April 15 through June 4.

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