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Daily news roundup for Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group
State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson reads a book about California to a room of third-graders at Morello Park Elementary School in Martinez on March 1, 2013.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

New era of testing begins in California schools // Contra Costa Times

"A new era of testing in California began Tuesday, as students logged onto computers to answer questions assessing their knowledge and skills in math and English language arts/literacy. 'These tests reflect the exciting changes taking place in California classrooms,' said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction in a conference call. 'Instead of being asked to merely pick out multiple-choice answers, students are being tested on their ability to reason and think. They must draw logical conclusions and cite evidence from what they have read, and they must solve real-world math problems.'

"Students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the tests, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP. The new exams are aligned with new Common Core standards that are designed to make students think critically, write analytically and problem-solve. The new tests replace the old paper and pencil standardized STAR tests. Instead of filling in bubbles for multiple choice questions, students take computer-adapted tests that ask different questions based on what they get right or wrong."


Intel Science Talent Search: San Jose teen wins top prize, $150,000 // San Jose Mercury

"In a contest considered the Nobel Prizes for the nation's brightest high school students, 17-year-old Andrew Jin, of San Jose, won one of three top prizes and $150,000 Tuesday at the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, for his work developing an algorithm that could help decipher the human genetic code….

"Jin, a senior at The Harker School, won the first place Medal of Distinction for Global Good. He developed a way of identifying human genome mutations and discovered more than 100 adaptive mutations in DNA sequences, related to immune response, metabolism, brain development and schizophrenia…. His work will help in understanding the genetic causes of diseases, a crucial step in developing therapies."


Illuminating: Bike Polo Court // Mission Mission

"The cement is curing on the first court in the US built from scratch specifically for bike polo. After years of being run out of nearly every court with lights, the San Francisco Bike Polo (SFBP) club will finally have a place to play without the threat of being ticketed. SFBP met with both the mayors office and the Park Director after being kicked out of Dolores Park in 2011. 'This allowed for some frank discussions about the need and what to do with us' explained Bikeman Ben, one the SFBP organizers.

"'Once we heard about the park renovation, we as a group, attended all of the planning meetings and made sure that the parks department knew that there was a demand' Ben continued. 'SFBP is the reason the court is being built.'"


The End of Long-Term Drug Rehab // East Bay Express

"… Right now officials for MediCal — California's version of the federal Medicaid health insurance for the poor — are ironing out the details with the federal government on what could be the most significant overhaul of the substance abuse field in California history. If approved, the planned changes would radically transform the substance abuse landscape, altering how providers do business and how poor people … get treatment.

"The state is promising to provide more people with more treatment options, including detox, methadone maintenance, and outpatient care. Most importantly, for the first time, it will offer short-term residential care to those with MediCal. But the overhaul may also result in the death of the long-term residential care system as we know it by limiting stays to no more than ninety days."


President Obama's Tech Hire initiative lists Bay Area companies as partners // KTVU

"President Obama announced a new tech hiring initiative Monday to create a pipeline for American youth and disadvantaged workers to get high-paying jobs. The White House initiative named San Francisco as one of 21 communities that have pledged to partner with companies. Bay Area tech companies Zendesk, Autodesk, Salesforce, Cisco, Jawbone and LinkedIn were specifically mentioned as partners from the private sector.

"The Bay Area has an abundance of tech jobs, but it's a competitive field. For low-income youth and other disadvantaged workers getting a foot in the door can seem almost impossible. President Obama said his new TechHire initiative will help create a pathway."


Odds increasing that huge quake will hit California // SF Gate

"The chances are increasing that a major quake — far larger than Loma Prieta — will hit California within the next 30 years, while the odds are decreasing that somewhat smaller but still dangerous jolts will strike in the same period, the state’s leading earthquake scientists warned Tuesday.

"The probability of a magnitude 8 or larger quake in California, the experts said, has increased from 4.7 percent estimated in 2008 to 7 percent now. One reason for the increased risk is that the scientists for the first time considered the probability that any two of the thousands of faults in California might rupture simultaneously in a 'multifault' quake."