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The California Department of Education (CDE) rolled out a major update to its CALPADS, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System. It is the state system that stores much of the student information required by the state and federal government, including attendance, courses taken, test results and accountability data. Unfortunately, the CALPADS glitches caused data errors and disruptions of the administration of the state’s Smarter Balanced assessments. Get the highlights below:

  • Some districts considered the system “unusable”.
  • Severity of the glitches goes beyond time-consuming fixes and inconvenience.
  • Problems affected some district’s ability to administer the Smarter Balanced testing to some students and are undermining confidence that CALPADS will process information accurately in coming months.
  • CALPADS has been laboring under the increasing data load.
  • State has been planning an upgrade that substantially improves system performance and decrease how long it takes for uploaded data to be posted to the system.
  • The upgrade was scheduled for mid-April, during their testing window, to have it in place by the end-of-the-year data submission period.
  • Some districts expressed “deep concern” for the significant challenges with CALPADS during the upgrade.
  • CDE acknowledged the system defects and the frustration the rollout created.
  • They apologized said they are working to resolve the problems.

Reported issues

  1. Districts could not keep up with changes and updates to special education students’ individualized education programs that dictate accommodations for taking Smarter Balanced tests, which could impact special education students’ ability to receive the correct accommodations when taking the tests.  
  2. Students transferring schools or districts were receiving multiple student identification numbers, delaying testing or, in some cases, requiring students to repeat Smarter Balanced tests.
  3. Districts reported numerous errors in uploading data to the revised system, requiring lengthy manual fixes.


  • Challenges are affecting operational functions at the district and school level.
  • Small districts without the staff and expertise to address the issues were the most impacted.
  • School districts are worried that the data problems with student ID numbers and special education students could jeopardize their ability to meet the required 95% participation rate on the Smarter Balanced tests, invoking federal penalties.
  • Waivers from the U.S. Department of Education are unlikely.
  • Representatives of school leaders are pessimistic, stating the department is not close enough to students to truly understand the impact.



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