New test standards for schools in works

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat /

California students are taking part in the first-year field test of the Smarter Balanced standardized test, which makes some sweeping changes to the state standardized exams.

The brand new test system is entirely web-based for the first time and grades students in new ways on new Common Core standards for math and English.

For its rollout this year, no student results will actually be published or used to score schools. It is "a test of the test" and a test of school infrastructure to handle hundreds of web-based exams for the first time.

So far, every school district in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties has handled the test.

Officials said only minor technical glitches came up and each district tested so far has successfully completed the assessments, which sometimes had hundreds of students online at once.

"This is a huge step," said Tuolumne County Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Margie Bulkin. "This was a fantastic show of support of California's willingness to align with this huge, monumental feat of moving from one set of testing to another, one set of standards to another."

Most importantly, she said, it's better for the kids. Both the Smarter Balanced test system and the new Common Core standards themselves are aimed at more practical knowledge for students.

For the complete story, see the April 30, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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