General Test Administration Information

This section provides an overview of the online testing environment and guidelines for test administration. Use this section to become familiar with what students will experience in accessing the assessments, to understand how to prepare for the assessments, and to review general rules for online testing. Information about the practice and training tests, test pauses, and test resumptions is also included in this section. Test administrators and test examiners should become familiar with this section well in advance of the start of testing so materials for logon, accommodations, and exemptions described below can be assembled.

General Rules of Online Testing for Test Administrators and Test Examiners

This subsection provides a brief overview of the general test administration rules for different portions of the assessment as well as information about student accessibility resources.

Basic Online Testing Parameters

Online Tests:

  • Students may not return to a test once it has been completed and submitted unless an Appeal to reopen the test has been approved
  • Within certain tests, there may be segments. A student may not return to a segment once it has been completed and submitted; during a grace period extension, the student may only return to prior pages (i.e., screens) within the existing segment. A grace period extension will only be granted in cases where there was a disruption to a test session, such as a technical difficulty, fire drill, schoolwide power outage, earthquake, or other act beyond the control of the test administrator.
  • For Smarter Balanced assessments, the CAST, and the CSA, students must enter an answer for all item(s) on a page before going to the next page. Students may need to use the vertical scroll bar to view all items on a page. The system will permit students taking a CAA to navigate through unanswered items.
  • Students may mark items for review and use the Past/Marked Questions drop-down list to return to those items that have already been answered within a segment. If this option is selected, students need to make sure they review their past or marked questions before they sign out of the test session, because once a test session is closed, questions from the session, including CAT writing items with partial responses, can no longer be accessed in subsequent sessions. (This functionality does not apply to the CAAs.)
  • An item is considered answered if the student has taken any action within the response area. This includes random keystrokes (e.g., sdkjfdlkdjfo), one or more spaces using the spacebar, selecting anywhere on a Grid Item – Hot Spot Item, etc.

Smarter Balanced, CAA for Science, and CAST:

  • In the Smarter Balanced assessments, CAT items and PTs are presented as separate tests.
  • The CAST is a single test that includes items ranging from traditional multiple-choice and constructed response to new technology-enhanced items, including PTs. A student survey consisting of eight to nine questions directly follows within the same testing session.
  • In the CAA for Science administration:
    • Embedded PTs should be administered shortly after related instruction.
    • The four embedded PTs should not all be administered in one test session or on one day.

CAAs for ELA and Mathematics:

The CAAs for ELA and mathematics use a multistage test design that assigns item sets of varying complexity, based on how well students perform on the initial set of items. Some students may be presented with fewer items than others, depending on how students perform on the items they receive. The goal of the CAA design is to provide students the best opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do while minimizing exposure to items with an inappropriate level of complexity.

Note that some students will automatically end testing after Stage 1. However, most students will complete Stage 1 and proceed to one of two Stage 2 sections. When testing is completed, the test examiner submits the test.

Tier 1 items are considered the most accessible and contain more images, and Tier 3 items provide more answer choices, more complicated text, and the fewest images.

Pause Rules

During the CAT (non-PT) portion of the Smarter Balanced and during the CAST discrete item blocks:

  • If a test is paused for 20 minutes or less, the student is required to log back on to the student interface using the student’s logon information (name, SSID, and test session).
  • If a test is paused for more than 20 minutes, the student
    • is required to log back on to the student interface using the student’s logon information (name, SSID, and test session);
    • is presented with the page containing the item(s) the student was working on when the assessment was paused (if the page contains at least one item to which there is not a response) or with the next page (if all items on the previous page were answered); and
    • will not be permitted to review or change any previously answered items, even if they are marked for review (with the exception of items on a page that contains at least one item to which there is not a response) (refer to appendix E, scenario 2, item c for additional information).
  • Any highlighted text will be saved when a test is paused regardless of how long the test is paused. Notes entered on the digital notepad will not be saved.
  • In the event of a technical issue (e.g., power outage or network failure), students will be logged off and the test will automatically be paused. The students will need to log on again upon resuming the test. Highlighted text will be available when the student has logged back on and resumed testing; notes entered on the digital notepad—the tool used to make notes about an item—will no longer be available.
  • Refer to Appendix E: CAT Pause Rules Scenarios to review the rules that govern pausing during the test.

During the PT portion of the Smarter Balanced and CAST assessments:

  • There are no pause restrictions. If a PT is paused for more than 20 minutes, the student can return to the section and continue to enter responses.
  • For the mathematics PT, any highlighted text and notes on the digital notepad will not be saved when a test is paused regardless of how long the assessment is paused.
  • For the ELA PT, the Global Notes are retained for both parts 1 and 2.
  • Any highlighted text and notes within the Global Notes will be saved when a test is paused regardless of how long the assessment is paused.
  • In the event of a technical issue (e.g., power outage or network failure), comments entered on the Global Notes—the tool used during ELA PTs in which students complete a full write, as well as for any other test items within the PT—will be available when the student has logged back on and resumed.

Please note that there are recommendations for breaks in table 2 for the ELA and mathematics content areas. Although the CAST is a single test that is estimated to take two hours, there are break recommendations, because each PT should be completed in a single session.

For the CAAs for ELA, mathematics, and science, the pause rules that follow apply regardless of whether the student or the test examiner pauses the test or there was a technical issue (e.g., power outage or network failure) that resulted in the student being logged off.

  • The CAAs can be paused and resumed as many times as necessary to allow the student to show what the student knows. The student also may choose to pause and resume over the course of a day or days throughout the testing window.
  • The test examiner can make the decision to pause and resume the test administration if the student is no longer engaged, is not actively participating, or is showing signs of behavioral or functional concerns related to the test.
  • When a test is paused, the test examiner, on behalf of the student, must log back on to resume testing. Upon resumption, the student is directed automatically to the first page that has an unanswered item. Previously answered items can be revisited within the current test segment, but not in prior segments.

Stopping a Test

Only the CAAs may be stopped before the test is complete.

Students typically take approximately 95 cumulative minutes or less to successfully complete a single content area of a CAA for ELA or mathematics. Test examiners may end a test if the student’s productivity and engagement have significantly declined, even after allowing the student breaks over multiple days.

In all cases, students should be given as many breaks as needed to perform well, including testing over multiple days.

If the test examiner determines it is in the best interest of the student to end the test early, the test examiner will need to advance through the remaining test items until the test examiner reaches the end and then submits the test.

Test Timeout (Due to Inactivity)

As a security measure, students, test administrators, and test examiners are automatically logged off the test after 30 minutes of inactivity. For students, activity is defined as selecting an answer or navigation option in the assessment (e.g., selecting [Next] or [Back] or using the Past/Marked Questions drop-down list to navigate to another item). Moving the mouse or selecting an empty space on the screen is not considered activity. This timeout also results in the test being paused automatically.

For test administrators and test examiners, activity means that a student or students are registering test activity. As long as students are testing, the test administrator or test examiner will not be logged off.

Before the secure browser logs the student off the assessment, a warning message will be displayed on the screen (figure 1). If the student does not select [Ok] within 30 seconds after this message appears, the student will be logged off. Selecting [Ok] will restart the 30-minute inactivity timer.

Screen capture of the Test Timeout warning message. It says, 'Are you still there? Click OK to continue or you will be logged out in 30 sections. [Message Code: 10906].

Figure 1. Test timeout warning message

Test Expiration Rules

“Opportunities” refers to the number of times a student can take a test within a range of dates. A student’s test opportunity remains active until the student submits the test or until the opportunity expires. Once a test opportunity expires, the student cannot complete or review the test. Students have one opportunity per CAASPP online assessment. Only interim assessments offer students multiple opportunities.

Smarter Balanced CAT

A student’s CAT (or non-PT) remains active until the student completes and submits the test or 45 calendar days after the student has begun the test (but before the end of the selected testing window), whichever occurs sooner. However, it is recommended that students complete the CAT items portion of the test within five days of starting the designated content area.

CAST and CAAs

The CAST assessment and the CAAs for ELA, mathematics, and science remain active until the student completes and submits the test or 45 calendar days after the student has begun the test (but before the end of the selected testing window), whichever occurs sooner. However, it is recommended that students complete these assessments within five days of starting the designated content area. Note that each of the four embedded PTs in the CAA for Science are treated as separate tests. All four must be completed and submitted no later than the last day of the LEA’s instructional calendar or July 15, 2021, whichever comes first.

CSA

The CSA remains active until the student completes and submits the test no later than July 15, 2021.

Smarter Balanced PT

The PT is a separate test that remains active for no more than 10 calendar days after the student has begun the PT. However, Smarter Balanced recommends that students complete the PT within three days of starting in each content area. The ELA PT will submit automatically if the 10-day window expires and the system has registered any response to any item in the PT. A summary of recommendations for the number of sessions and session durations is provided in the subsection Testing Time and Recommended Order of Administration.

Testing Time and Recommended Order of Administration

All students participating in the Smarter Balanced assessments will receive a CAT and a PT in both ELA and mathematics. Students in grades five, eight, and eleven (if that student has been assigned) will receive the CAST in addition to the Smarter Balanced assessments for ELA and mathematics. Otherwise, students in grade twelve who are required to take the CAST will take only the CAST, as will those students in grade ten who are assigned to take the CAST.

Eligible students taking the online CAAs will receive both ELA and mathematics assessments. Students in grades five, eight, and eleven (if that student has been assigned) will also receive the CAA for Science, in addition to the CAAs for ELA and mathematics. Otherwise, eligible students in grade twelve who are required to take the CAA for Science will take only the CAA for Science, as will those students in grade ten who are assigned to take the CAA for Science.

Testing Time and Scheduling

Testing Windows

LEA CAASPP coordinators set up test dates in TOMS. Testing windows can be viewed in TOMS by LEA CAASPP coordinators by selecting to view the administration summary for the LEA in TOMS. All CAASPP testing must take place within this window, including any make-up testing.

Scheduling Time for Testing

Estimated testing times do not account for any time needed to start devices, load secure browsers, and log students on; nor do they account for breaks. Test administrators and test examiners should work with CAASPP test site coordinators to determine precise testing schedules.

Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and Mathematics

Table 1 contains rough estimates of the time it will take most students to complete the Smarter Balanced assessments based on the time it took students to complete the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in prior years. This information is for scheduling purposes only, as the assessments are not timed.

Table 1. Estimated Testing Times for Smarter Balanced Online Assessments

Grade-Level Assessment CAT items in hrs:mins PT in hrs:mins Total in hrs:mins
ELA 3–5 0:45 2:00 2:45
ELA 6–8 0:45 2:00 2:45
ELA 11 1:00 2:00 3:00
Mathematics 3–5 0:45 1:00 1:45
Mathematics 6–8 1:00 1:00 2:00
Mathematics 11 1:00 1:30 2:30
ELA and mathematics 3–5 1:30 3:00 4:30
ELA and Mathematics 6–8 1:45 3:00 4:45
ELA and Mathematics 11 2:00 3:30 5:30

When developing a testing schedule, use the estimated testing times to calculate the number of days and the amount of time it will take to complete an assessment in each content area and grade level. Also consider that Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the CAT and PT items on separate days to minimize the effect of student fatigue.

CAAs for ELA, Mathematics, and Science

For the CAAs for ELA and mathematics, testing should take approximately 60 to 100 minutes for each content area, although the assessments are untimed, and the amount of time each student needs can vary. Tests may be administered to a student over as many testing sessions and days as required to meet the needs of that student.

For the CAA for Science, which is administered one-on-one shortly after the student has received related science instruction in the classroom, testing should take approximately 60 to 100 minutes per embedded PT, although the assessments are untimed and the amount of time each student needs can vary. Tests may be administered to a student over as many testing sessions and days as required to meet the needs of that student. It is not recommended that students be administered more than one CAA for Science embedded PT per test session.

CAST

Administration of the CAST assessment is estimated to take approximately two hours. Note that the CAST is an untimed test. The CAST is composed of five blocks of test questions: two or three blocks of discrete (stand-alone) questions followed by three or two PTs where each PT is a block. It is strongly recommended that a PT be started and completed in a single test session, with a break after either the second or third block of test questions.

CSA

Administration of the CSA is estimated to take approximately two hours. Note that the CSA is an untimed test and students should be given as much time as they need to complete this assessment.

Recommended Order of Online Administration of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

The summative assessments comprise two components (tests) for ELA and mathematics: a CAT and a PT.

Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the CAT and PT items on separate days to minimize the effect of student fatigue. For each content area, Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the CAT items followed by the PT. LEAs or schools may opt to administer in a different order, if needed.

Recommended Order of Test Administration

Figure 2 illustrates the flow of test administration, where the CAT should precede the PT.

Displays the recommended order of test administration, with the computer adaptive test coming before the performance task

Figure 2. Recommended order of administration

Duration and Timing Information

The scheduling recommendations for ELA, mathematics, and science assessments are included in table 2 and table 3. Note that the duration, timing, break and pause rules, and session recommendations vary for each content area and component.

ELA and Mathematics

Table 2. Assessment Sequence—ELA and Mathematics

Variable CAT Items PT CAA
Number and Duration of Sessions

Recommendations:

  • Two sessions (recommended) and no more than six sessions (rare or extreme).
  • Session durations range from 40–60 minutes.

Most students will complete the CAT items in two sessions of 60 minutes or less or one long session of more than 60 minutes.

The PT is presented in two parts.

ELA Recommendations:

  • Administer the ELA PT in two sessions corresponding to parts 1 and 2 of the PT.
  • ELA session durations range from 60–120 minutes. Part 2 should be scheduled to allow students enough time to complete the full write in one test session.

Mathematics Recommendations:

  • Administer the mathematics PT in one session.
  • The mathematics session duration ranges from 40–120 minutes.

Recommendations:

  • The CAAs should be administered in as many testing sessions and days required to meet the needs of the student.
  • The test examiner can make the decision to pause and resume the test administration if the student is no longer engaged, is not actively participating, or is showing signs of behavioral or functional concerns related to the test.
Breaks within Sessions

Breaks can be provided during the test sessions using the software’s pause feature. If the test is paused for more than 20 minutes, the student will not be able to go back to items on the previous pages (i.e., screens).

  • Recommendation: A single test session should not include a break longer than 20 minutes. Instead, separate test sessions should be scheduled around extended breaks (e.g., lunch).

ELA:

The PT is presented in two parts. Students may take breaks within parts 1 and 2; however, once a student moves to Part 2, the student will not be able to review or revise items in Part 1.

  • Recommendation: Students complete Part 1 in one test session and Part 2 the next school day in a single test session.

Mathematics:

Students may take breaks during PT test sessions. Mathematics PT items are presented on a single page (i.e., screen). Following a break, the student will have access to the same items.

Breaks can be provided during the test sessions according to individual student needs.
Total Duration

Once a student has started the CAT items, this test will be available for 45 calendar days or as many days as remain within the LEA’s selected testing window, whichever length of time is shorter (e.g., if there are 15 days left in the selected testing window and 20 days before the CAT expires, the test will become unavailable after 15 days).

  • Recommendation: Student completes this portion within five days of starting.

Once a student has started the PT, it will be available for 10 calendar days or as many days as remain within the LEA’s selected testing window, whichever length of time is shorter (e.g., if there are four days left in the selected testing window and nine days before the PT expires, the test will become unavailable after four days).

  • Recommendation: Student completes each part of the PT within one day.

Once a student has started a CAA, this test will be available for 45 calendar days or as many days as remain within the LEA’s selected testing window, whichever length of time is shorter (e.g., if there are 15 days left in the selected testing window and 20 days before the CAA expires, the test will become unavailable after 15 days).

  • Recommendation: Student completes this portion within five days of starting.
Important Reminders for ELA:
  1. For the Smarter Balanced PTs, students may be best served by sequential, uninterrupted time that may exceed the time in a student’s schedule.
  2. Minimize the amount of time between beginning and completing each test within a content area.
  3. Students cannot return to Segment 1 of the ELA PT once they have moved to Segment 2. However, global notes are retained between segments.
  4. The tests are not timed, so all time estimates are approximate.
  5. Students should be allowed extra time if they need it, but test administrators and test examiners need to use their best professional judgment when allowing students extra time. Students should be actively engaged in responding productively to test questions.
  6. ELA assessments can be spread out over multiple days as needed.
Additional Administration Recommendations for Mathematics:
  1. For the Smarter Balanced PTs, students may be best served by sequential, uninterrupted time that may exceed the time in a student’s schedule.
  2. Minimize the amount of time between beginning and completing each test within a content area.
  3. The number of items will vary on the CAT and PT portions of each student’s Smarter Balanced assessment.
  4. The tests are not timed, so all time estimates are approximate.
  5. Students should be allowed extra time if they need it, but test administrators and test examiners need to use their best professional judgment when allowing students extra time. Students should be actively engaged in responding productively to test questions.
  6. Mathematics assessments can be spread out over multiple days as needed.

Science

Table 3. Assessment Sequence—Science

Variable CAST CAA for Science
Number and Duration of Sessions

Recommendations:

  • This is administered in as many sessions as needed.
  • Session duration should take approximately 120 minutes.
  • A post-test survey should take an additional 10 minutes.

Recommendations for each embedded PT:

  • The CAA for Science should be administered in as many testing sessions and days as required to meet the needs of the student.
  • The test examiner can make the decision to pause and resume the test administration if the student is no longer engaged, is not actively participating, or is showing signs of behavioral or functional concerns related to the test.
Breaks within Sessions

Breaks can be provided during the test sessions using the software’s pause feature. If the test is paused for more than 20 minutes, the student will not be able to go back to items on the previous pages (i.e., screens).

If a break is needed, it is recommended that the break occur after either the second or third block of test questions.

Breaks can be provided during the test sessions according to individual student needs.
Total Duration

Once a student has started the CAST, this test will be available for 45 calendar days or as many days as remain within the LEA’s selected testing window, whichever length of time is shorter (e.g., if there are 15 days left in the selected testing window and 20 days before the CAST expires, the test will become unavailable after 15 days).

  • Recommendation: Student completes this portion within five days of starting.

Once a student has started a CAA for Science embedded PT, the particular embedded PT will be available for 45 calendar days or until July 15, whichever comes first.

Recommendations:

  • Student completes this portion within five days of starting.
  • The 45 calendar days refers to an individual embedded PT. It is neither necessary nor recommended that all four embedded PTs be administered within this window.
Additional Administration Recommendations for Science:
  1. For the CAST, students may be best served by sequential, uninterrupted time that may exceed the time in a student’s schedule.
  2. For the CAA for Science, test examiners should ensure their students attempt all four of the separate embedded PTs so the student can be counted as participating.
  3. Minimize the amount of time between beginning and completing the test.
  4. The tests are not timed, so all time estimates are approximate.
  5. Students should be allowed extra time if they need it, but test administrators and test examiners need to use their best professional judgment when allowing students extra time. Students should be actively engaged in responding productively to test questions.
  6. Tests can be spread out over multiple days as needed.

Sensitive Responses

Taking Appropriate Action with Student Responses or Student Actions That Cause Concern

Throughout the test administration process, student safety is always the primary consideration.

During testing, test administrators or test examiners may encounter student actions that disrupt the assessment administration and may endanger the student or others. In addition, it is possible that test administrators or test examiners will encounter student responses to questions or notes on scratch paper that necessitate some action to ensure student safety.

For test administrators, CAASPP security protocols make it clear that test administrators are not permitted to review student responses in the testing interface or students’ notes on scratch paper. However, during or after CAASPP assessments, a test administrator might unexpectedly encounter a student response that raises sufficient concern to warrant adult action, including action as a mandated reporter. Topics that may require the test administrator to take action include, but are not limited to, student references to:

  1. Suicide
  2. Criminal activity
  3. Alcohol or drug use
  4. Extreme depression
  5. Extreme violence or threats of violence
  6. Sexual assault or physical abuse
  7. Self-harm or intent to harm others
  8. Neglect
  9. Bullying of individuals or groups of students

Note that, for a CAA test examiner, such a discovery may come during the course of one-on-one administration.

Collecting Information

Prior to administration, each test administrator and test examiner should have a thorough understanding of policies for the school, LEA, California, or any combination of these regarding documentation of student actions or concerning responses during a secure test event. The test administrator or test examiner should document as much information as possible in accordance with policies for the school, LEA, CDE, or any combination of these.

Escalating Information

Should the test administrator or test examiner encounter a sensitive situation while supervising the test session, the test administrator or test examiner should immediately escalate this concern in accordance with policies and procedures for the school, LEA, CDE, or any combination of these.

Alert Paper Process

As part of the process for scoring the writing tests for the CAASPP, readers may come across student responses that warrant an LEA’s immediate attention. Examples include responses in which students indicate or suggest they are experiencing or have experienced some kind of physical or emotional abuse or neglect; they may harm themselves or others; or they are experiencing severe distress. LEAs are notified of such instances through an alert paper.

Upon notification that a student’s response requires attention, ETS sends the details of an alert paper via email. The email will contain a password-protected attachment that includes only the SSID, LEA name, test name, and content of the student response. The password will be shared with the LEA coordinator and superintendent separately following the initial notification. This process provides the LEA information in a timely manner and ensures security.

In addition to the email, LEA CAASPP coordinators will receive a phone call when a student response is deemed severe. If the primary LEA coordinator is not available, the secondary coordinator listed in TOMS is contacted. If there is no other coordinator listed in TOMS, a voice mail is left for the primary coordinator.

Early Assessment Program (EAP)

The Early Assessment Program (EAP) is a joint collaboration of the CDE, The California State University (CSU), and participating California Community Colleges (CCC). All students participate in EAP by virtue of completing the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and mathematics.

The EAP provides students with an early indicator of their readiness for college-level coursework in written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning prior to starting their senior year. The results are used to determine a student’s placement in appropriate coursework once the student has been admitted to the CSU. The release of CAASPP results will not affect a student’s application for admission.

A student will be asked to authorize the release of their Smarter Balanced results to the CSU and CCCs. To release the results, students should select the circle that indicates their understanding that CAASPP/EAP results will be shared directly with the CSU, CCC, or both. This question is asked at the end of each test.

The release of ELA and mathematics results must be authorized individually (e.g., authorization for the ELA results does not automatically confer authorization for the mathematics results). Students may voluntarily share results of one or both assessments. Students who choose not to release their results to the CSU and CCC will need to provide their results to a CSU or CCC upon request.