Security of the Test Environment

A secure online testing environment is possible when an individual is restricted from accessing prohibited computer applications (local or internet-based) or copying or otherwise sharing test data. A secure online testing environment is necessary to maintain test security and provide a stable testing experience for students across multiple platforms. The security of assessment instruments and the confidentiality of student information are vital to maintaining the validity, reliability, and fairness of the results.

All summative test items and test materials are secure and must be appropriately handled. Secure handling protects the integrity, validity, and confidentiality of assessment items, prompts, student information, and test results. Any deviation in test administration must be reported as a test security incident to ensure the validity of the assessment results.

It is the responsibility of each person participating in the administration of any of the CAASPP summative assessments to immediately report any violation or suspected violation of test security or confidentiality. The CAASPP test site coordinator is responsible for immediately reporting any security violation to the LEA CAASPP coordinator.

In the case of a student cheating, the test administrator must stop the cheating; however, if the incident of cheating does not involve electronic devices, the LEA may decide to allow the student to complete the remainder of the test. After testing, the test administrator must notify the CAASPP test site coordinator. Do not call the CDE, an LEA Success Agent, or CalTAC to report student cheating. The LEA CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator must, instead, file a report using the STAIRS/‌Appeals process.

If the LEA decides to allow the student(s) to complete testing, the LEA CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator should open a STAIRS case in TOMS immediately with the incident type of “Student Cheating or Accessing Unauthorized Devices” and the Yes, I want the student to complete the assessment radio button selected. The STAIRS case remains in Draft status until the student has completed testing, when the submitter can return to file an Invalidate Appeal.


Test administrators, test examiners, and CAASPP test site coordinators or other individuals who have witnessed, been informed of, or suspect the possibility of a test security incident that could potentially affect the validity of inferences from test results or the integrity of the assessments or the data should review the information in the subsections Identifying Testing Improprieties, Irregularities, and Breaches and Appeals (as necessary) of this manual; and then refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide for additional instructions. Note that only LEA CAASPP coordinators and CAASPP test site coordinators may report the incident using the STAIRS/Appeals process and, if directed, file an Appeal.

Table 1 through table 4 describe security requirements for the test environment during various stages of testing. The test environment refers to all aspects of the testing situation while students are testing and includes what a student can view, hear, or access (including access via technology).

Before Testing

Table 1. Requirements of the Test Environment Before Testing

Requirement Description
Instructional materials removed or covered Instructional materials must be removed or covered, including but not limited to information that might assist students in answering questions that is displayed on bulletin boards, chalkboards or dry-erase boards, or on charts (e.g., wall charts that contain literary definitions, maps, mathematics formulas, etc.).
Student seating Students must be seated to minimize opportunities to look at each other’s work—for example, students may be assigned staggered seating or be seated in every other chair or workstation position—or they should be provided with table-top partitions. Student seating should consider county health directives and suggestions from the Suggested Guidelines for Physically Distancing Test Administration.

Place a “TESTING IN PROGRESS-DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the door or post signs in halls and entrances rerouting hallway traffic to promote optimum testing conditions.

CAASPP test site coordinators or test administrators should post the “Unauthorized Electronic Devices May Not Be Used at Any Time During the Testing Session” signs so that they are clearly visible to all students. A sign can be downloaded from the Manuals and Instructions web page on the CAASPP website.

During Testing

Table 2. Requirements of the Test Environment During Testing

Requirement Description
Quiet environment Provide a quiet environment void of talking or other distractions that might interfere with a student’s ability to concentrate or might compromise the testing situation or environment.
Student supervision

Students are actively supervised by a trained test administrator or test examiner and are prohibited from

  • viewing other students’ answers,
  • distracting or interrupting other students, and
  • accessing or using unauthorized electronic devices that allow access to outside information, communication among students or with other individuals outside the testing environment or photographing or copying test content. This includes any device with cellular, messaging, or wireless capabilities, but is not limited to cell phones, smart watches, personal digital assistants, tablets, iPods or other mp3 devices, cameras, and electronic translation devices.
Access to allowable resources only Students must only have access to and use of those allowable resources (refer to the subsection Establishing Appropriate Testing Conditions for examples) that are permitted for each specific test (or portion of a test). This includes access to medical supports and devices that may be integrated into other technology devices (refer to the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines for information about student use of medical supports during testing). Use of such devices may require additional monitoring or a separate test setting to maintain test security.
Access to assessments Unauthorized staff or other adults (including students’ parents/guardians) must not be in the room during testing. Only students who are testing can view items. Based on the item type (i.e., PTs), trained test administrators may also have limited exposure to items in the course of properly administering the assessments; however, even test administrators or test examiners and other trained staff must not actively review or analyze any test items.
Testing through secure browser Administration of the CAASPP assessments is permitted only through the student interface via a secure browser or a method of securing the student device.

During and After Testing

Table 3. Requirements of the Test Environment During and After Testing

Requirement Description
No access to responses LEA CAASPP coordinators, CAASPP test site coordinators, test administrators, and other staff are not permitted to review student responses to the Smarter Balanced assessments, CAST, or CSA in the testing interface or students’ notes on scratch paper.
No copies of test materials Unless needed as a print-on-demand or braille accommodation, no copies of the test items, stimuli, reading passages, PT materials, or writing prompts may be made or otherwise retained.
No access to digital, electronic, or manual devices No digital, electronic, or manual device may be used to record or retain test items, reading passages, or writing prompts. Similarly, these materials must not be discussed with or released to anyone via any media, including fax, email, text message, social media websites, etc.
No retaining, discussing, or releasing test materials Descriptions of test items, stimuli, printed reading passages, or writing prompts must not be retained, discussed, or released to anyone.
No reviewing, discussing, or analyzing test materials LEA CAASPP coordinators, CAASPP test site coordinators, test administrators, and other staff must not review, discuss, or analyze test items, stimuli, reading passages, or writing prompts at any time, including before, during, or after testing. Student interaction with a test administrator or test examiner during a test is limited to necessary communication (such as permission to leave the room) or to respond during any CAA. Students should be informed that they may not discuss or share test items, stimuli, reading passages, or writing prompts with anyone during or after testing.
Keeping all test materials secure at all times Printed materials from the print-on-demand accommodation, scratch paper, the CAA DFA(s), and documents with student information must be securely stored in a locked location (e.g., locked room closet or cabinet) that can be opened only with a key or keycard by staff responsible for test administration.
No retaining of test “tickets” or any materials created to assist students with logging on to the summative assessments All students’ ID information must be collected at the end of each test session, stored securely, and then destroyed securely.

After Testing

Table 4. Requirements of the Test Environment After Testing

Requirement Description
No test materials used for instruction Test items, stimuli, reading passages, or writing prompts must not be used for instruction.
Destroy test materials securely Printed test items or passages, including embossed braille printouts, scratch paper, notecards or paper that include student logon information, and printed DFA(s) for the CAAs must be collected and inventoried and then immediately shredded upon a student’s completion of the test. Refer to the next subsection, Handling Secure Printed Materials, for details.