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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-86
November 19, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Appoints Tom Adams as Deputy Superintendent to Succeed Lupita Cortez Alcalá

[Note: this press release has been saved for historical purposes and has not been updated since 2015]

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced he is appointing Tom Adams, currently Division Director at the California Department of Education (CDE), as Deputy Superintendent of the Instruction and Learning Support Branch.

Effective December 1, Adams will succeed Lupita Cortez Alcalá, who will become Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission.

Torlakson said the department is fortunate Adams, who has 18 years of experience in a variety of roles at CDE, will serve as the new Deputy Superintendent.

"Tom is a proven leader with deep knowledge of policy, dedication to our students, and a record of accomplishment," said Torlakson. "Tom has played a pivotal role in improving education for our students by overseeing the adoption and implementation of the California Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, also referred to as the Common Core.  He has also provided local leadership in education by serving as an elected trustee on the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education."

Adams, who has a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Davis, started with the CDE in 1997 as a consultant. He has extensive experience in implementing and updating curriculum frameworks in a wide variety of subjects, including history-social science, science, and visual and performing arts.

Most recently, he served as Director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division and Executive Director of the Instructional Quality Commission, formerly known as the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, the advisory body to the State Board of Education on curriculum and instructional materials.

Torlakson thanked Cortez Alcalá for her service, calling her "a superstar in education" who always puts students first.

"She will be missed for her talent, warmth, creativity, and leadership," said Torlakson. "In a variety of roles at CDE, Lupita led teams that produced numerous ground-breaking accomplishments."

Cortez Alcalá, who has a master's degree from the Harvard University School of Education, serves as Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

She began her career at CDE in 2003 as a legislative associate and also served as Director of the Government Affairs Division.

During her tenure, Cortez Alcalá oversaw the creation of the English Learner Division, revamped the migrant education program, initiated the Seal of Biliteracy to recognize students fluent in two or more languages, and worked with Adams and CDE staff to develop the English language arts/English language development framework and standards, which aim to improve language development for English learners.

In addition, she oversaw the implementation of the $500 million California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) grants and initiated CDE's first California Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Symposium.           

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, March 5, 2021
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