New era of standardized tests for California students

Written by

Schools statewide are rolling out new standardized tests this week – and for the first time all the tests will be taken on a computer. The new exams also reflect the switch to the new Common Core educational curriculum. They’re designed to demand deeper thinking than the old standardized tests. Instead of relying exclusively on multiple choice questions, the tests require students to come up with some answers on their own, and to explain how they reached their conclusions. Meanwhile, the days of pencils and papers are gone: every one of the three million or so California students scheduled to take the tests this year will use a laptop, desktop or tablet computer.

kashkariThe two main GOP candidates for governor are way behind Jerry Brown when it comes to fundraising. Former Treasury official Neel Kashkari has raised about $1.3 million since announcing his candidacy two months ago. He has a little less than a million bucks on hand. It’s a grimmer picture for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. The Lake Arrowhead lawmaker raised $182,000 between January and mid-March. But Donnelly spent more than that, and his campaign has a $148,000 deficit. Gov. Brown has raised nearly $3 million this year and has about $20 million in the bank.

The head of the L.A. Police Commission wants an explanation from Chief Charlie Beck about his decision not to fire a relative of a former deputy chief. Board President Steve Soboroff says Beck’s actions give the appearance of favoritism. High-ranking police officials recommended that Shawn Hillman be fired after he was caught on tape outside a bar two years ago using a racial slur. A disciplinary panel agreed. But Beck disregarded the recommendations, allowing Hillman to return to work after a two-month suspension. Shawn Hillman is the nephew of former Deputy Chief Michael Hillman. His father was also an LAPD officer.

APARTMENTThis won’t come as a surprise to apartment dwellers, but California ranks as the second least affordable state in the country for renters. The National Low Income Housing Coalition says that in order to afford an average two-bedroom rental, a California worker needs to earn $26 an hour, or $54,000 a year. The national average is a little less than $19 dollars an hour. More than 60 percent of California renters cannot afford a two-bedroom unit, according to the report. The only state more expensive than California is Hawaii, where it takes an income of more than $30 an hour to pay for an average two-bedroom.

bald-eagleAmerica’s national bird, the bald eagle, may be making a comeback on Catalina Island. Two eaglets hatched more than a week ago and another one this week. The hatchings were captured by a web cam and live-streamed to viewers on the Internet. Catalina’s eagle population was decimated between the late 19th Century and the 1970s, first due to hunting and later to the release of millions of tons of DDT and other toxic chemicals into the waters off Catalina. Meanwhile, biologists plan to release four endangered California condors into the Monterey County wild today – and that event too will be streamed live over the web. The Ventana Wildlife Society has installed a new web cam for the release.