Appendix A: Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines (Guidelines) and the CAST Accessibility Supports for Operational Testing are intended for school-level personnel and decision-making teams, including IEP and Section 504 plan teams, as they prepare for and implement the Smarter Balanced and CAST. These documents provide information for classroom teachers, English language development educators, special education teachers, and instructional assistants to use in selecting and administering universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations for those students who need them. They are also intended for assessment staff and administrators who oversee the decisions that are made in instruction and assessment.

The Smarter Balanced Guidelines and CAST accessibility supports (resources) apply to all students. These directives emphasize an individualized approach to the implementation of assessment practices for those students who have diverse needs and participate in large-scale content assessments. The Guidelines focus on universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations for the Smarter Balanced assessments of ELA and mathematics. The CAST accessibility resources focus on universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations for the science content area. These documents may also support important instructional decisions about and the connection between accessibility and accommodations for students who participate in CAASPP content-area assessments.

If a student is using an instructional support that is not listed in the CDE California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix but is in a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan, then the school or LEA may request the use of that support in TOMS.

Definitions

The summative assessments allow for accessibility resources. Accessibility resources are defined in table 1.

Table 1. Definitions for Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations

Type Definition
Accommodations Accommodations are changes in procedures or materials that increase equitable access during administration of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and the CAST. Assessment accommodations generate valid assessment results for students who need them and allow these students to show what the students know and can do. Accommodations are available for students with documented IEPs or Section 504 plans. Approved accommodations do not compromise the learning expectations, construct, grade-level standard, or intended outcome of the assessments.
Designated Supports Designated supports for administration of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and the CAST are those resources that are available for use by any student for whom the need has been indicated by an educator (or team of educators with the parent/‌guardian and student). It is recommended that a consistent process be used to determine these supports for individual students. Designated supports need to be identified prior to assessment administration.
Universal Tools Universal tools are available to all students based on student preference and selection.

Available Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations

For the Smarter Balanced and CAST paper–pencil assessments, the California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix, the Smarter Balanced Guidelines and the CAST Accessibility Supports for Operational Testing should be used to guide the use of all available universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations. Table 2, table 3, and table 4 list and describe the resources available for the Smarter Balanced and CAST paper–pencil assessments along with considerations for planning and administration.

Table 2 lists and describes the universal tools.

Table 2. List and Description of Universal Tools Available to All Students

Universal Tool Description
Breaks Breaks may be given at predetermined intervals or after completion of sections of the assessment for a student taking a paper-based test. Sometimes the student is allowed to take breaks when individually needed to reduce the cognitive fatigue experienced during heavy assessment demands. The use of this universal tool may result in the student needing additional overall time to complete the assessment. Upon returning from a break, the student should not be permitted to review responses from any section of the test other than the one currently being taken. (Note: Online pause rules do not apply.)
Calculator (for calculator-allowed mathematics and science sessions only) In sessions 2 and 3, a student in grades six or above may use a calculator of the mathematics assessment. A student in grade eight and high school may use a calculator on the science assessment. Refer to the Calculator Use Guidelines subsection for additional information about this resource.
English dictionary (for ELA PT full writes) An English dictionary may be provided for the full-write portion of an ELA PT. A full write is the second part of a PT. The use of this universal tool may result in the student needing additional overall time to complete the assessment.
English glossary Grade- and context-appropriate definitions of specific construct-irrelevant terms are provided with test materials for a student’s test form. Only glossaries provided with the test materials may be used. (LEA CAASPP coordinators may request glossaries from CalTAC. Glossaries are available for mathematics and science only.)
Highlighter A student may use a tool for marking desired text, item questions, item answers, or parts of these with a color.
Line reader A student may be provided with a straight edge object such as scratch paper to assist in reading by raising and lowering the object for each line of text.
Mark for review A student may note items for further review after completing other items. Marks can be made in the test booklet to avoid stray marks in the answer booklet that may interfere with data entry.
Science reference tools

The CAST assessments for grade eight and high school include a periodic table and a reference sheet of formulas on an individual page at the front of the CAST test booklet.

The science reference sheet page must be collected and securely destroyed after testing, as it may have been used as scratch paper by a student.

Scratch paper

A student may use scratch paper to make notes, write computations, record responses, or create graphic organizers. Only plain paper or lined paper is appropriate for ELA; graph paper is required beginning in sixth grade and may be used on all mathematics assessments. A student may use a whiteboard with marker as scratch paper. As long as the construct being measured is not impacted, an assistive technology device, including low-tech assistive technology (Math Window), is permitted to make notes. The assistive technology device needs to be consistent with the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. Access to the internet must be disabled on an assistive technology device.

Sessions 1 and 2: All scratch paper must be collected and securely shredded at the end of each session to maintain test security. All notes on whiteboards or assistive technology devices must be securely erased at the end of each session.

PTs: For mathematics and ELA PTs, if a student needs to take the PT in more than one session, scratch paper, whiteboards, and assistive technology devices may be collected at the end of each session, securely stored, and made available to the student at the next PT testing session. Once the student completes the PT, the scratch paper must be collected and securely shredded to maintain test security.

Science: All scratch paper must be collected and securely shredded, whiteboards should be erased, and notes on assistive technology devices should be securely erased to maintain test security.

Strikethrough A student may cross out answer options in the test booklet.
Thesaurus (for ELA PT full write) A thesaurus contains synonyms of terms that a student can use while interacting with text included in the assessment. A full write is the second part of a PT. The use of this universal tool may result in the student needing additional overall time to complete the assessment.

Table 3 lists and describes the designated supports.

Table 3. List and Description of Designated Supports

Designated Support Description
100s Number Table (for CAST items) A paper-based table listing numbers from 1–100 is available for download. This non-embedded designated support needs to be downloaded and printed prior to test administration. Additional information about the 100s number table is found in appendix G of this manual.
Bilingual dictionary (ELA PT full write) A student may use a bilingual or dual-language word-to-word dictionary as a language support.
Color overlays Color transparencies are placed over a student’s paper-based assessment.
Illustration glossaries (for mathematics) Illustration glossaries are a language support provided for selected construct-irrelevant terms for mathematics. Illustrations for these terms appear in a supplement to the paper–pencil test and are identified by item number.
Magnification A student may use a magnifying device or take a large-print version of the test.
Masking Masking involves blocking off content on the paper–pencil test that is not of immediate need or that may be distracting to the student. The student is able to focus attention on a specific part of a test item by using the masking resource.
Medical support The student may have access to an electronic device for medical purposes. (e.g., glucose monitor). The device may include a cell phone; however, it is no longer limited to devices and should support the student during testing only for medical reasons. Either the device settings must restrict access to other applications or the test administrator must closely monitor the use of the device to maintain test security.
Multiplication table (CAST) A 1–12 multiplication table may be used by a student with a persistent calculation disability. This non-embedded designated support needs to be downloaded and printed prior to test administration. Additional information about the multiplication table is found in appendix H of this manual.
Noise buffers Noise buffers are ear mufflers, white noise, or other equipment used to block external sounds.
Read aloud

Text is read aloud to the student by a trained and qualified human reader who follows the administration guidelines provided in both English and Spanish on the CDE Smarter Balanced Accessibility Resources web page. All or portions of the content may be read aloud.

This resource is a designated support for mathematics and science items and for all ELA items (but not for ELA reading passages). Refer to the description of the read aloud accommodation for ELA reading passages.

Scribe (for ELA nonwriting items, mathematics, and science) (Refer also to Accommodations for writing) A student dictates the response to a human who records verbatim what the student dictates. The scribe must be trained and qualified and must follow the administration guidelines provided on the CDE Smarter Balanced Accessibility Resources web page.
Separate setting The test location is altered so the student may be tested in a setting different from that made available to most students.
Simplified test directions The test administrator simplifies or paraphrases the test directions according to the Simplified Test Directions guidelines.
Translated test directions Translation of test directions is a language support available prior to beginning the actual test items. A student can access test directions in another language. Refer to the CAASPP Smarter Balanced Translated Test Directions web page for a list of translated test direction student resource sheets.
Translations (glossaries) (mathematics and science items) Translated glossaries are a language support. Translated glossaries are provided for selected construct-irrelevant terms for mathematics and science. Glossary terms are listed by item and include the English term and its translated equivalent. (LEA CAASPP coordinators may request glossaries from CalTAC. Glossaries are available for mathematics and science only.)

Table 4 lists and describes the accommodations.

Table 4. List and Description of Accommodations

Accommodation Description
100s Number Table (for mathematics items) A paper-based table listing numbers from 1–100 is available for download. This non-embedded accommodation resource needs to be downloaded and printed prior to test administration. Additional information about the 100s number table is found in appendix G of this manual.
Abacus This accommodation may be used in place of scratch paper for a student who typically uses an abacus.
Alternate response options A student with some physical disabilities (including both fine and gross motor skills) may need to use the alternate response options accommodation to respond to test items.
Braille Graphic material (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, and illustrations) is presented in a raised format (paper or thermoform). Contracted and noncontracted braille is available; Nemeth code is available for mathematics. Please note that the answer booklets will not be brailled. Administrators must transcribe student responses into the DEI.
Calculator (for calculator-allowed sessions only) A student needing a special calculator, such as a braille calculator or a talking calculator, may use a special calculator. The non-embedded calculator should have no internet or wireless connectivity, and all security procedures need to be followed.
Large-print Materials are available in an enlarged format.
Multiplication table (for mathematics items) A 1–12 multiplication table may be used by a student with a persistent calculation disability. This non-embedded accommodation resource needs to be downloaded and printed prior to test administration. Additional information about the multiplication table is located in appendix H of this manual.
Read aloud (for ELA reading passages, all grades; students with visual impairment in grades three through eight and grade eleven who do not yet have adequate braille skills) Text is read aloud to the student by a trained and qualified human reader who follows the administration guidelines provided in both English and Spanish on the CDE Smarter Balanced Accessibility Resources web page. All or portions of the content may be read aloud.
Scribe (refer also to designated support for nonwriting ELA, mathematics, and science) A student dictates the responses to a human who records verbatim what is dictated. The scribe must be trained and qualified and must follow the administration guidelines provided on the CDE Smarter Balanced Accessibility Resources web page.
Speech-to-text Voice recognition allows a student to use a voice as an input to the student’s own assistive technology device and voice recognition software to dictate responses to constructed-response items. A student may use a personal assistive technology device.

Unlisted Resources

An unlisted resource is an instructional resource that a student regularly uses in daily instruction, assessment, or both that has not been previously identified as a universal tool, designated support, or accommodation. The California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix includes a list of unlisted resources that have already been identified and are approved. Approval of an unlisted resource that has not been preidentified will be granted by the CDE as designated by the IEP team, Section 504 plan, or both, and if the unlisted resource does not compromise the test’s security.

The CDE shall make a determination of whether the requested unlisted resource changes the construct being measured. This determination will be made after all testing has been completed.

California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix includes a list of unlisted resources that have already been identified and are approved (table 5). These and other unlisted resources can be requested by an LEA CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator in TOMS.

Table 5. Identified Non-Embedded Unlisted Resources

Unlisted Resource ELA Reading ELA Writing ELA Listening Mathematics Science
Bilingual dictionary Yes N/A N/A Yes Yes
Calculator (used on nonallowed items) N/A N/A N/A Yes (grades 6–8 and grade 11) N/A
Calculator N/A N/A N/A Yes (grades 3–5) N/A
English dictionary Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes
Math tools (i.e., non-embedded ruler, non-embedded protractor) N/A N/A N/A Yes N/A
Signed Exact English Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thesaurus Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes
Translated word lists Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Translations (not provided by Smarter Balanced or the CDE) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes