Appendix B: CAASPP Program Incident Reporting Process

Testing Breaches

A testing breach is a test administration event that poses a threat to the validity of the test. Breaches require immediate attention and escalation via telephone. If the breach is due to social media exposure on the part of a student or adult or to media coverage of an administration, the LEA CAASPP coordinator contacts CalTAC at 800-955-2954. Following the call, the CAASPP test site coordinator or LEA CAASPP coordinator must report the breach using the online STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS within 24 hours.

Examples may include such situations as exposure of secure materials or a repeatable security or system risk. These circumstances have external implications. (Example: Test administrators modifying student answers or test items shared through social media.)

Test Security Incident

Testing irregularities are incidents that may compromise the reliability and validity of test results. The following information and procedures are provided to assist in identifying incidents and notifying the CDE.

Education Code Section 60611 states: “A local educational agency, district superintendent of schools, or principal or teacher of any elementary or secondary school, including a charter school, shall not carry on any program for the sole purpose of test preparation of pupils for the statewide pupil assessment system or a particular test used in the statewide pupil assessment system. Nothing in this section prohibits the use of materials to familiarize pupils with item types or the computer-based testing environment used in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.”

The following are five categories of test security incidents reported for the Smarter Balanced and CAST paper–pencil tests. Refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide for additional information about CAASPP test security and additional information about these security incident types.

  1. Exposure of secure materials
  2. Student cheating or access to unauthorized devices—for example, cell phones—during testing
  3. Test validity issue
  4. Data entry issue
  5. Restore from Reset (DEI issue)

Refer also to the Identifying Testing Incidents subtopic of the CAASPP Online Test Administration Manual for information about test security and STAIRS.

Using STAIRS

The online STAIRS/Appeals process, available in TOMS, must be used by LEA CAASPP and CAASPP test site coordinators to report a test security incident or other testing issue that interferes with the administration and completion of the assessment. Testing incidents must be reported within the LEA’s selected testing window and should be filed with enough time for students to finish testing after an Appeal has been granted.

Breach incidents occur because of social media exposure on the part of a student or an adult or because of media coverage of an administration must be reported by phone to CalTAC whether the LEA’s selected testing window is still open or has closed. (Refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide for details about the incident reporting process and a detailed description of the STAIRS process.)

LEA CAASPP coordinators and CAASPP test site coordinators must ensure that all test security incidents are documented using the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS. After the incident is reported, TOMS will immediately prompt the filing of an Appeal, if that is the appropriate action. A system email will be sent that describes the submittal and includes the case number that can be used for searches in TOMS. This email will be sent to the submitter (and to the LEA CAASPP coordinator, if the STAIRS case or the Appeal is submitted by the CAASPP test site coordinator). Ensure that communications generated by the email address ca‑assessments@ets.org are not automatically sent to a junk mail or spam folder.

LEA CAASPP coordinators must view the announcements and to-do list in the “MyTOMS at a Glance” section of their home page in TOMS. TOMS shall send an automated notification to the LEA if there are any STAIRS cases that have a Draft status and need to be submitted shortly before the LEA’s testing window closes.

The CDE may review a STAIRS case to determine whether the testing issue requires additional action by the LEA.

Report Incidents

The LEA CAASPP coordinator is responsible for notifying the CDE within 24 hours, using the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS, of any incidents that occur before, during, or after summative testing. The CAASPP test site coordinator is responsible for immediately notifying the LEA CAASPP coordinator of any security breaches or testing irregularities that occur in the administration of the test.

The online STAIRS/Appeals process, which is available in TOMS, must be used to provide the required information to the CDE when a test security incident is confirmed. For cases involving 11 or more students, the STAIRS/Appeals process includes the opportunity to securely upload a spreadsheet containing SSIDs of up to 500 students involved in the irregularity. Do not upload student names, only SSID numbers.

Additionally, if there is an issue entering the student’s responses in the DEI that requires that some or all of the students’ responses be reentered, a STAIRS case is filed to request either a Re-open or Reset Appeal.

The LEA CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator (with a copy sent to the LEA CAASPP coordinator) submitting the STAIRS case will receive an email that includes the details that were entered into the STAIRS data-entry screen and instructions.

An email may be sent to the CDE if there are pending Appeals or STAIRS cases that require the CDE’s approval or if there is a new comment added to the “Notes” section of a case that involves the CDE’s approval.

If an Appeal is required—as would be in an incident involving the DEI—it is requested in TOMS when the incident is reported. These instructions will also be presented on the Search STAIRS screen when the STAIRS case is submitted.

STAIRS cases with any status—draft, partial CDE approval, partial CalTAC approval, pending CDE approval, pending CalTAC approval, and completed—are searchable in the [Search STAIRS] tab in TOMS. Draft cases may be deleted by the LEA CAASPP coordinator.

Appeals with any status—approved, pending, pending approval, rejected (appeals rejected by CDE or CalTAC), rejected by system, swap approved, and withdrawn—are searchable in the [Search Appeals] tab in TOMS.

Note that students may finish the tests if the security incident is identified during testing. The student will receive a score report. LEAs are to deal with cheating in accordance with local policy.

Coordinator Procedures

The CAASPP test site coordinator:

  • Receives notification of an incident
  • Reviews the information provided and verifies that an incident has occurred
  • Contacts the LEA CAASPP coordinator and provides all pertinent information or reports the incident using the STAIRS/Appeals process, if this is the procedure established for the LEA, if the incident has not been reported by the CAASPP test site coordinator, and if the incident is not a breach

The LEA CAASPP coordinator:

  • Receives notification of an incident
  • Reviews the information provided and verifies that the occurrence is a reportable incident
  • Notifies CalTAC immediately (by phone) if the breach is due to social media exposure on the part of a student or adult or to media coverage of an administration
  • Reports the incident using the STAIRS/Appeals process, if this is the procedure established for the LEA
  • Responds to and assists the CDE and test security personnel as requested
  • Keeps any documentation associated with the test security incident for one year

STAIRS Actions

The online data-entry screens used during the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS prompt the user through the steps necessary to submit a STAIRS case. The CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide lists the incident types and any action to be taken.