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California Department of Education News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-91
December 22, 2015
Contact: Peter Tira
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 97 Percent Participation Rate for Smarter Balanced Assessments

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that California students reached a 97 percent participation rate in the 2014–15 Smarter Balanced assessments and the California Alternate Assessment field test, saying it was a strong sign of support for new, more rigorous standards in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics.

The participation rate allowed California to meet the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which requires a 95 percent participation rate statewide.

Torlakson said the high participation rate is significant because almost all tests were taken on computers — not paper and pencil — and reflected the state's new, more rigorous California standards in ELA  and mathematics, frequently referred to as Common Core.

"These numbers tell an important story," Torlakson said. "They reflect strong support for our new standards among parents, teachers, students, and business and community leaders. The standards are a critical part of our plan to improve education in California because they emphasize skills that prepare students for 21st century careers and college, such as critical thinking and problem solving."

The high rates also show how effective state and local efforts have been in upgrading Internet capability at California schools. Only about 900 of the 3.2 million students who took the tests used paper and pencil because of inadequate technology.

Schools administered the tests March through June in grades three through eight, and grade eleven. Final data recently became available. Even though a new federal law governing education was signed by President Obama earlier this month, accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 are still in effect until the 2017–18 school year.  States, districts, and individual schools are all required to meet federal participation and proficiency standards or take measures to improve their performance. Because of California's new testing program, the state received a one-year waiver in meeting federal proficiency requirements.

California's 2015 participation rates are available online at the California Department of Education's searchable DataQuest and at the Department's Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Web page.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

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