Using STAIRS

The online STAIRS/Appeals process, available in TOMS, must be used by LEA ELPAC and site ELPAC 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 testing window and should be filed with enough time for students to finish testing after an Appeal has been granted.

Breach incidents that include social media exposure on the part of a student or adult or media coverage of an administration must be reported to CalTAC immediately by phone. (Refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide web page for details about the incident reporting process.)

LEA ELPAC coordinators and site ELPAC 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 ELPAC coordinator, if the form is submitted by the site ELPAC 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 ELPAC 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.

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

Required Action Steps

This subsection lists the required actions for each test security incident.

Impropriety

An impropriety is an unusual circumstance that has a low impact on the individual or group of students who are testing and has a low risk of potentially affecting student performance on the test or of impacting test security or test validity. The steps to process an impropriety are as follows:

  1. Local administrators or staff take corrective action and notify the site coordinator.
  2. The incident is mitigated as necessary by school staff, and the LEA ELPAC coordinator is contacted for assistance with mitigation as necessary.
  3. The site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator reports the impropriety using the online STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS within 24 hours.

Irregularity

An irregularity is an unusual circumstance that impacts an individual or group of students who are testing and may potentially affect student performance on the test or impact test security or test validity. These circumstances can be contained at the local level. The steps to process an irregularity are as follows:

  1. Local administrators or staff take corrective action and notify the site coordinator.
  2. The incident is mitigated as necessary by school staff, and the LEA ELPAC coordinator is notified for assistance with mitigation.
  3. The site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator reports the irregularity using the online STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS within 24 hours.
  4. The coordinator submits an Appeal request, if prompted.
  5. The submitter (and the LEA ELPAC coordinator, if the submitter was a site ELPAC coordinator) receives an email summarizing the submittal.
  6. The submitter (and the LEA ELPAC coordinator, if the submitter was a site ELPAC coordinator) receives an email summarizing the submittal.
  7. The CDE reviews the STAIRS case and approves the Appeal, if necessary. The coordinator retains the STAIRS response email for the record.

Breach

A 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 an adult, the LEA ELPAC coordinator must contact CalTAC. Following the call, the site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator must report the breach using the STAIRS/Appeals process 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. The steps to process a breach are as follows:

  1. Local administrators or staff mitigate the incident as necessary and immediately report the breach to the site ELPAC coordinator, LEA ELPAC coordinator, or both.
  2. LEA staff members investigate the security risk, alert CalTAC for social media breaches, and stand ready to receive further guidance on the dispensation of the event.
  3. The LEA ELPAC coordinator immediately calls the CDE to report the breach. Following the call, the site ELPAC coordinator or LEA ELPAC coordinator reports the breach using the online STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS within 24 hours.
  4. The coordinator submits an Appeal request, if prompted.
  5. The submitter (and the LEA ELPAC coordinator, if the submitter was a site ELPAC coordinator) receives an email summarizing the submittal.
  6. The CDE reviews the STAIRS case and approves the Appeal, if necessary. The coordinator retains the STAIRS response email for the record.

The STAIRS/Appeals Process

Information about using the STAIRS/Appeals process is described in the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide.

Report Incidents

The LEA ELPAC coordinator is responsible for using the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS to report any incidents that occur before, during, or after summative testing. The site ELPAC coordinator is responsible for immediately notifying the LEA ELPAC 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 an 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. TOMS will prompt the user if an Appeal is to be filed after the STAIRS case is submitted. When the Appeal type is Grace Period Extension or a Restore from Reset, the CDE will first review the STAIRS case and approve the Appeal before it is filed in TOMS.

The LEA ELPAC coordinator or site ELPAC coordinator (with a copy sent to the LEA ELPAC coordinator) who submits the STAIRS case will receive an email to confirm the submittal.

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.

STAIRS cases with any status—draft, partial CDE approval, partial CalTAC approval, pending CDE approval, pending CalTAC approval, and completed—are searchable in Search STAIRS in TOMS.

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 Search Appeals in TOMS.

Coordinator Procedures

The site ELPAC coordinator:

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

The LEA ELPAC coordinator:

  1. Receives notification of an incident from the site ELPAC coordinator
  2. Reviews the information provided and verifies that the occurrence is a reportable incident
  3. 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
  4. Reports the incident using the STAIRS/Appeals process if this is the procedure established for the LEA
  5. Responds to and assists the CDE and test security personnel, as requested
  6. Keeps any documentation associated with the 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.

Appeals

Process

An Appeal must be filed before the end of the selected testing window and with enough time to complete testing of the student within the selected testing window. Take the following steps to file an Appeal in TOMS:

If an Appeal is warranted for an incident and the case is submitted, the STAIRS process creates the Appeal. An Appeal is processed within four business days of its receipt. Users will receive an email verifying that the Appeal has been processed.

Appeals with any status are searchable in TOMS.