Sutter Middle hosts Supt. Torlakson’s spring testing press event

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Banda, Torlakson face 'The Pick' team

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson announced the start of statewide spring testing during a press event at Sutter Middle School on Tuesday.

Beginning this month, students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the online Smarter Balanced Assessments in math and English. The assessments are online tests aligned with California’s new rigorous standards for learning. Students will also take paper-and-pencil science exams.

“We’re making some of the most far-reaching changes to public education ever,” Torlakson told an audience of reporters inside Sutter’s library. “We’re here today to mark one of those changes, our new assessments.”

Last year, students across California participated in a field test of the online assessments designed to uncover and fix issues with the program and the technology. Because it was a pilot year, results from these tests were not reported to schools or families.

Results will be reported this year. Torlakson cautioned against comparing the Smarter Balanced Assessment results with scores from the past testing system known as STAR.

“We’d like to think of these new tests as a resetting for California,” he said. “This year’s test results will only establish a baseline…No teacher or parent should be discouraged by the scores.”

SCUSD Superintendent José L. Banda also spoke to the press, praising teachers and student for their work to prepare for testing.

“Preparing our schools and our students for the new Common Core Standards and the new Smarter Balanced Assessments has been quite a challenge,” he said. “I’m very proud of our hard-working students and teachers who are meeting this challenge with persistence and grace.”

“Our teachers are raising the bar for students by challenging them to think independently, solve complex problems, use technology and write at a level that colleges expect.”

To accommodate the new standards and new tests, SCUSD upgraded school technology, purchased new curriculum and provided training and support to teachers.

“We still have a long way to go with all those things,” Superintendent Banda said. “(But) I’m confident that, down the road, students will be better prepared to compete in a global economy because of the hard work we’re doing today.”

Other speakers on Tuesday included California PTA President Colleen A.R. You, Rocklin Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Deborah Sigman and Sutter Middle Principal David Rodriguez and Sutter teacher Andrea Zasoski.

Zasoki told Torlakson that Sutter students are ready to “rock and roll” with the new tests. She also thanked him for last spring’s field test which “gave schools an opportunity to work out bugs.”

Following the press conference, Torlakson and Banda were interviewed by a reporting team from “The Pick,” Sutter’s news show.