About the Assessments

In 2020–21, there are four types of online summative assessments administered as a part of the CAASPP:

  • Smarter Balanced Online Summative Assessments (grades three through eight and grade eleven). Each assessment consists of a CAT and a PT.
    • ELA
    • Mathematics
  • CAAs
    • ELA (grades three through eight and grade eleven)
    • Mathematics (grades three through eight and grade eleven)
    • Science (This online assessment is delivered as four online, embedded PTs to students in grades five, eight, and twelve, and students in grades ten and eleven whose IEP prescribes an alternate science assessment.)
  • CAST
    • Science (grades five, eight, and twelve, and students in grades ten and eleven whom the LEA recommends to take a science assessment)
  • CSA
    • Spanish-specific reading, writing mechanics, and listening skills (grades three through eight and high school)

Assessment Participation

All students are required to participate in the CAASPP assessments for which they are eligible with the exception of those for whom a parent/guardian exemption has been submitted to the test site or for whom the not tested due to a medical emergency exemption applies. All students who are logged on and presented with the first test question of the Smarter Balanced (for both the CAT and the PT portions), CAA, and CAST are counted for participation.

Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and mathematics are next-generation assessments that were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a multistate, state-led consortium. These tests are aligned to the Common Core State Standards in ELA and mathematics that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness.

Consistent with the Smarter Balanced testing plan and California’s educational mission, all students, including students with disabilities, EL students, and EL students with disabilities, should have equal opportunity to participate in assessments administered in California.

Participation Requirements

All students enrolled in grades three through eight and grade eleven are required to participate in the Smarter Balanced mathematics assessment except for the following:

  • Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who meet the criteria for the CAA for Mathematics based on alternate achievement standards (approximately 1 percent or fewer of the student population) will take the CAA for Mathematics. These students must also take the CAA for ELA.

All students enrolled in grades three through eight and eleven are required to participate in the Smarter Balanced ELA assessment except for the following:

  • Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who meet the criteria for the CAA for ELA alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (approximately 1 percent or fewer of the student population) will take the CAA for ELA. These students must also take the CAA for Mathematics.
  • EL students who are within their first 12 months of enrollment in a U.S. school after April 15 of the previous school year have a one-time exemption from the Smarter Balanced for ELA assessment (but may opt to take the ELA assessment) and are required to take the Smarter Balanced for Mathematics. These students will also participate in the ELPAC testing.

Accessibility Resources

Smarter Balanced has crafted a comprehensive accessibility and accommodations framework, the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, for all students, including those with special assessment needs. The Consortium has also developed a variety of innovative universal tools that are embedded in the test delivery system as well as a variety of designated supports and accommodations. To assist CAASPP users in implementing these accessibility resources, the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing is available as well.

In addition, the CDE California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix web document lists the embedded and non-embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations that are allowed as part of all CAASPP general and alternate assessments.

Finally, the CDE Student Accessibility Resources web page lists additional information about the resources available for the CAASPP assessments.

California Alternate Assessments

The summative CAAs are for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose IEP team has designated the use of an alternate assessment on statewide summative assessments. These online tests, for ELA and mathematics and the science assessment, are administered to eligible students whose disability prevents them from taking the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and mathematics and the CAST. Students who are identified for an alternate assessment will take all the alternate assessments to which they have been assigned.

  • Students in grades three through eight and grade eleven whose IEP designates they take an alternate assessment will take the CAAs for ELA and mathematics.
  • Students in grades five, eight, and either ten, eleven, or twelve (whom the LEA recommends to take a science assessment) whose IEP designates they take an alternate assessment will take the CAA for Science as assigned.
  • Students in grade twelve who have not yet taken a science test will automatically be registered to test. Students who are repeating grade twelve are not eligible to test.

The CAAs for ELA, mathematics, and science are delivered one on one by a test examiner and use the same test delivery system as the other CAASPP online assessments. Additionally, the CAA for Science is delivered as embedded PTs, four per grade level assessed.

There are five versions of the CAAs for ELA and mathematics and four versions of each set of CAA for Science embedded PTs that are assigned at the school level. Version assignments are posted on the CAAs for ELA and Mathematics Version Assignments and CAA for Science Version Assignments web pages on the CAASPP website. Secure, version-specific Directions for Administration (DFA) are available for download from TOMS.

The CAA for Science is administered one on one as embedded PTs by a test examiner during the course of instruction and shortly after instruction of related science content is complete. The separate DFA for each embedded PT and the online assessment became available on September 8, 2020. Use the CAA for Science Administration Planning Guides, linked on the CAASPP CAA for Science Administration Planning Guides web page, to plan and schedule testing.

Participation and Eligibility Requirements

The CAAs for ELA, mathematics, and science are online, summative, grade-level assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose IEP designates the use of an alternate assessment. These students are receiving grade-level instruction using alternate achievement standards in grades three through eight and eleven in ELA and mathematics. In addition, students in grades five, eight, and once in high school will participate in the CAA for Science.

For the CAAs, teachers may provide any resources required by a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan or those that are needed and used by the student during regular classroom instruction.

The following are the eligibility guidelines on the CDE Alternate Assessment IEP Team Guidance web page that IEP teams should follow in determining whether a student should take the CAAs:

  • The student has a significant cognitive disability. Review of the student’s school records indicates a disability or multiple disabilities that significantly impact intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior essential for someone to live independently and to function safely in daily life. Having a significant cognitive disability is not determined by an IQ test score; rather, a holistic understanding of a student is required.
  • The student is learning content derived from the CA CCSS or the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). Goals and instruction listed in the IEP for the student are linked to the enrolled grade-level CCSS or CA NGSS and address knowledge and skills that are appropriate for and set high expectations for this student. The content the student is learning is derived from the CCSS and CA NGSS, and appropriately breaks the standards into smaller achievable steps. The National Center and State Collaborative has derived these smaller steps from the CCSS to guide instruction, and they are called Core Content Connectors. Science Connectors also were derived from the CA NGSS standards. A Connector is a representation of the essential “core” content of a standard in the CCSS and CA NGSS. Each Connector was identified by examining learning progressions aligned with the CA CCSS or CA NGSS to determine the critical content for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
  • The student requires extensive, direct individualized instruction and substantial supports to achieve measurable gains in the grade-level and age-appropriate curriculum, including the following:
    • Instruction and support that are not of a temporary or transient nature
    • Substantially adapted materials and individualized methods of accessing information in alternative ways to acquire, maintain, generalize, demonstrate, and transfer skills across multiple settings

Accessibility Resources

Students provide responses to the assessments by using the mouse or keyboard if they are able. Students are encouraged to complete items as independently as possible. However, in some cases, the test examiner selects the responses indicated by the student. Modes of communication may include gesture, eye gaze, assistive communication device, or other means.

The test examiner should use the training tests to determine the student’s mode of communication. The CDE Student Accessibility Resources web page describes the accessibility resources available for the CAAs.

Preparing for Second Scoring in the CAA for ELA

Overview of Second Scoring

Starting in the 2020–21 CAASPP administration, a subset of LEAs will be required each year to conduct second scoring of rubric-scored items for the CAA for ELA. LEAs and schools chosen to second-score will be required to have a second qualified test examiner to observe and score the student’s response at the time of testing.

Second scoring is the process of having another educator score the same student’s rubric-scored items simultaneously, yet independently, from the student’s primary TE. The purposes of second scoring are to establish and document standardized scoring procedures. Second scoring is one method of providing scorer reliability evidence.

Results from the second scoring will be used by ETS to conduct interrater reliability analysis on rubric-scored items. The second scores will not be used for official scoring or reporting purposes, although analysis of aggregated second-scoring results will be included in the annual technical report for the CAAs. A student’s completion status and test results are reported whether or not the second scoring occurs.

Who Participates in Second Scoring?

All LEAs and schools assigned to the version five test form will be required to participate in second scoring for that year. LEAs or schools will be required to second-score all students taking the assessment within the LEA or school. LEAs or schools that are selected for second scoring for either the CAA for ELA or the Alternate ELPAC in the previous year will not be selected to participate in second scoring the following year.

Qualifications for a Secondary Test Examiner

As with the primary TE, the secondary TE must

  1. be credentialed,
  2. receive training on how to administer the CAA for ELA,
  3. sign the Security Affidavit in TOMS, and
  4. be assigned a TOMS account with a test examiner user role.

Ideally, the secondary TE is also a teacher familiar with the student’s individual testing needs. Refer to the Test Examiner Checklist for the roles and responsibilities of the primary and secondary test examiner.

Second Scoring Process

Approximately one to three items in each test require test examiners to score a student’s live response at the time of testing using a rubric provided in the DFA. The step-by-step process for second scoring from a TE’s perspective is explained, in detail, in the CAA Test Examiner Tutorial that is linked on the CAAs web page and in the version five DFA, which is a secure document available for download in TOMS.

All second scores must be entered into the DEI before the end of the administration testing window. An LEA or school may opt to take one of the following courses of action:

  1. Have the secondary TE enter the student’s second score directly in the DEI as the secondary TE observes the student’s response during test administration (This requires access to a user device or laptop.); or
  2. Have the secondary TE use a printed answer-recording document provided in the DFA to record second scores during test administration. After testing, the secondary TE or school administrator must enter the student’s score into the DEI before the end of the test administration window.

LEA CAASPP coordinators and CAASPP test site coordinators can track the progress of assigned and completed tasks for the second scoring in the LEA and sites using the CAA Second Scoring Status Report in TOMS. This report includes the following variables:

  • Students eligible for alternate testing
  • Students who have tested
  • Students who have received a second score in the DEI

STAIRS Incident Report for Second Scoring

If a secondary TE was not present at the time of testing, the LEA must create a STAIRS incident report of the type “Data-Entry Issue.” After this incident is selected, the drop-down list appears, and the option “A test examiner did not test in real time and cannot determine scoring” must be selected. This is a nonappealable error, meaning that a test cannot be reopened or reset for a data entry issue alone. This irregularity will neither invalidate the student’s primary score nor place the student’s primary score on hold. Refer to the Test Security section for steps to reporting a testing incident.

Second Scoring Responsibilities of a LEA CAASPP Coordinator or Test Site Coordinator

The LEA CAASPP coordinator or test site coordinator should confirm version assignments on the CAAs for ELA and Mathematics Version Assignments web page. If the LEA or school is assigned to version five, the LEA or school is required to second-score for that year. Therefore, the LEA CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator will be responsible to take the following actions in support of the second scoring process:

  1. Review the second scoring process as outlined in the version five DFA, which is downloaded in the [Resources] navigation tab in TOMS. (Refer to the “Secure Materials” topic in the CAASPP and ELPAC TOMS Guide for additional information about how to download secure materials in TOMS, including the CAA DFAs.)
  2. Identify and train the secondary TE on the second-scoring process. It is the LEA CAASPP coordinator’s responsibility to ensure that a secondary TE is available and properly trained.
    1. The secondary TE must meet the same criteria as the primary TE, meaning that the secondary TE
      • is credentialed,
      • has a signed Security Affidavit in TOMS,
      • has received training on the CAA for ELA, and
      • ideally, is a teacher who is familiar with the student’s individual testing needs.
  3. Ensure the secondary TE has the test examiner user role in TOMS.
  4. Track second scoring completion rates using the second-scoring report in TOMS.
  5. Ensure all students in the LEA or school assigned to version five have second scores submitted in the DEI before the end of the school’s test administration window.
  6. If a secondary TE was not present for a student, create a STAIRS incident of the type “Data Entry Issue” for that student.

California Science Test

The CAST is an online, summative assessment based on the CA NGSS. All LEAs are required to administer the CAST to eligible students in grades five and eight and one time in high school (i.e., grade ten, eleven, or twelve). High school students have only one opportunity to take the CAST. LEAs can elect to administer the CAST to students in grade ten or eleven. Students in grade twelve who have not yet met the science testing requirement will automatically be registered to take the CAST. Students repeating grade twelve are not eligible to test. All students will receive their CAST scores in an SSR after they have tested.

Participation and Eligibility Requirements

What follows are additional details about eligibility for the CAST:

  • All LEAs with eligible students in grades five, eight, twelve, and students in grades ten and eleven whom the LEA recommends to take a science assessment will administer the CAST.
  • Students who take the CAST while their testing grade is grade ten or eleven will not be eligible to retake the CAST in grade eleven or twelve.
  • Students in grade twelve who have not yet taken a science test will automatically be registered to test.
  • Students who are repeating grade twelve are not eligible to test.

Accessibility Resources

The CAST uses the CAST Accessibility Supports for Operational Testing, which follows an approach consistent with the Smarter Balanced framework in the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines that are used for other CAASPP assessments. The approach includes a variety of innovative universal tools that are embedded in the test delivery system as well as a variety of designated supports and accommodations. To assist CAASPP users in implementing these accessibility resources, the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing is available as well.

In addition, the CDE California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix web document lists the embedded and non-embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations that are allowed as part of all CAASPP general and alternate assessments.

Finally, the CDE Student Accessibility Resources web page lists additional information about the resources available for the CAASPP assessments.

California Spanish Assessment

The CSA is an optional, online, linear (nonadaptive), summative, grade-level assessment for students in grades three through eight and high school who are seeking a measure that evaluates their Spanish reading, writing mechanics, and listening skills. The CSA is a part of the CAASPP system and replaced the Standards-based Tests in Spanish.

The CSA is aligned to the CCSS en Español, which were developed as a joint effort between the San Diego County Office of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the CDE. The CCSS en Español are a translated and linguistically augmented version of the English-language CCSS for English Language Arts & Literacy.

Accessibility Resources

The CSA uses the Smarter Balanced framework, the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, that is used for other CAASPP assessments. The framework includes a variety of innovative universal tools that are embedded in the test delivery system as well as a variety of designated supports and accommodations. To assist CAASPP users in implementing these accessibility resources, the CAASPP and ELPAC Accessibility Guide for Online Testing is available as well.

In addition, the CDE California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix web document lists the embedded and non-embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations that are allowed as part of all CAASPP general and alternate assessments.

Finally, the CDE Student Accessibility Resources web page lists additional information about the resources available for the CAASPP assessments.