As Burbank students prepare to take a set of computerized exams — part of a multistate standardized testing effort called Common Core — administrators are rushing to buy equipment, spending $90,000 in state funds to purchase about 120 laptops and headphones.
"That has been our mad dash and our scramble to make sure schools are ready to handle that," said Sharon Cuseo, who oversees the program for Burbank Unified.
Despite the rush, neither students nor district employees will see the results. The exams will be given to students from third through eighth grade as well as high school juniors beginning in mid-March. School districts will not receive scores from the exams until students take them in March 2015.
With the new computerized exams that will replace the former multiple choice, pencil and paper tests, educators hope to better grasp students' academic weaknesses and strengths. But issues remain.
School board member Larry Applebaum recently questioned whether students — particularly those in high school — would quickly share difficult questions among themselves.
"That kind of worries me about the security aspect," he said.
Cuseo assured him that proctors would monitor the students and have students in the same grade level take the test at the same time.
Even so, she added, "To be honest with you, I think test security is always going to be an issue."
The exams were recently discussed by parents in the neighboring Glendale school district where State Supt. Tom Torlakson cautioned that scores will likely dip as they did when the state adopted the former standardized exams years ago.
"We anticipate a drop," he said, but expressed optimism that the scores would rise again.
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