Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress—Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations


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Where can I find guidelines related to Accessibility and Accommodations?

Smarter Balanced has developed a set of Usability, Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines, which applies to all students. The Guidelines provide information for classroom teachers, English development educators, special education teachers, and related services personnel to use in selecting and administering universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations for those students who need them. The guidelines are also intended for assessment staff and administrators who oversee the decisions that are made in instruction and assessment.

In addition, there is a Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions Web document. These frequently asked questions address common inquiries from schools and districts about the delivery of universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations. This document supports the Consortium's Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines.

Where text-to-speech is not available, can the Test Administrator (TA) read the assessment aloud?
Read-aloud is only permitted in the following limited circumstances: as a non-embedded designated support for mathematics items and English language arts/literacy (ELA) items, as a non-embedded accommodation for ELA passages in grades 6–8 and 11, and for students with visual impairments in grades 3–8 and 11 who do not yet have adequate braille skills. For more information see the Usability, Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines.
Are headphones needed for this assessment?
Yes; headphones are required for all ELA listening items and performance tasks, and for all students who require text-to-speech. Schools are responsible for ensuring that all students have headphones.
Can the “Keyboard Commands for Students” be printed for students to use?
Yes; the Keyboard Commands for Students Web document provides keyboard commands that students can use to navigate between test elements, features, and tools. Test Administrators (TAs) can print this document out for students to use as a tool during testing.
May scratch paper or graph paper be retained between sessions?

Printed test items/stimuli, including embossed braille printouts, scratch paper, and graph paper must be collected and inventoried at the end of each test session and then immediately shredded. DO NOT keep printed test items/stimuli or scratch paper for future test sessions.

The only exception to this rule is when notes are used during the ELA and mathematics performance tasks. During the ELA PT, the notes on the embedded notepad (“Global Notes”) are retained from Part 1 to Part 2 so the student may go back to the notes even though the student is not able to go back to specific items in Part 1. While the embedded notepad is the preferred mode for note taking, students may use scratch paper to make notes. To ensure that students using scratch paper for notes have the same allowance as students using the online notes, TAs should ensure that students write their names (or some other personal identifier) on the scratch paper, collect students’ notes at the completion of Part 1 of the ELA PT, and then securely store the scratch paper. The scratch paper should be redistributed for students’ use during Part 2 of the ELA PT.

Similarly, the mathematics PT may extend beyond one testing session. In this situation, TAs should ensure that students have written their names (or some other personal identifier) on the scratch paper or graph paper, collect them at the end of the first session, and securely store them for students’ use in the subsequent testing session. The retention of scratch paper is only allowed for the PTs. Following the conclusion of the PT, all scratch paper and/or graph paper must be collected and securely destroyed to maintain test security.

Why will local educational agencies (LEAs) need printers and how can LEAs determine whether that is an accommodation their students will need?
LEAs may need printers for the students who have Print on Demand as an accommodation. This accommodation allows for paper copies of either passages/stimuli and/or items to be printed for students. Refer to the Usability, Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines for direction on when this accommodation may be appropriate for a student.
How soon can an LEA start uploading the accommodations and designated supports for students in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?
LEAs can start uploading as soon as the students appear in TOMS. Designated supports and accommodations must be set by the responsible LEA in which the student is enrolled before the student begins testing.
Will an LEA have to set designated supports and accommodations for late-enrolling students in TOMS?
No; if a student’s test settings have been properly set in TOMS, they will move with the student to whichever LEA he or she is next enrolled.
What are accessibility supports?
Accessibility supports are not universal tools, designated supports, or accommodations. Accessibility supports shall be available if specified in the eligible pupil’s individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Accessibility supports may or may not have been previously identified. An LEA shall submit a request to the CDE prior to the use of any accessibility support(s). For more information, please refer to the CDE Matrix One Web page. LEA CAASPP Coordinators may request an accessibility support from the CDE by using the downloadable Accessibility Support Request Form.
Will an ELA test still be generated for English learners (ELs) identified in TOMS?
More information is forthcoming.
Who is able to set designated supports and accommodations for students in TOMS?
The LEA CAASPP Coordinator and/or test site coordinator have the ability to designate supports and accommodations for students in TOMS. Test site coordinators can only set designated supports and accommodations for students within their test site.