Willits takes position with Smarter Balanced

State Superintendent Tom Luna’s Chief of Staff Luci Willits has accepted a job with Smarter Balanced, a state-led consortium that developed an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Idaho’s students will take the Smarter Balanced test in April; the assessment was field-tested in Idaho earlier this year. About 18 other states are expected to use the Smarter Balanced test, in an attempt to use a similar, consistent method to measure student achievement and growth.

Luci Willits
Luci Willits

Willits will be the deputy executive director of Smarter Balanced and the second in command to CEO Tony Alpert. Willits will oversee external communications and policy.

Smarter Balanced is based in Los Angeles through UCLA. Willits will continue to live in Boise and work remotely with extensive travel.

“This is something I’m really passionate about,” Willits said. “This is a good thing for me and my family.”

Willits has been the second in command at the State Department of Education for Luna’s eight years in office.

Republican Sherri Ybarra was elected this week to succeed Luna as superintendent of public instruction. But since January, when Luna announced he would not seek a third term, Most of his top executives have left the department: deputy chief of staff Jason Hancock; testing specialist TJ Bliss; spokeswoman Melissa McGrath; and office coordinator Camille Wells. Luna said he did not fill these positions so the transition would be smoother for the next state superintendent.

“Change is good,” Willits said. “It’s very healthy for them to bring in their own team.”

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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