California Science Test (CAST)
The California Science Test (CAST) is an online assessment based on the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) . All local educational agencies (LEAs) with eligible students in grades five and eight and in high school (grade ten, eleven, or twelve) administer the CAST. Every device used for testing must have the secure browser installed. Stable, high-speed Internet is required.
Who takes the CAST? The CAST is administered in grades five and eight and once to each student while that student is in high school. All students must take the CAST by the end of grade twelve, but have the option of testing in grade ten or grade eleven. Only eligible students may participate in the administration of the CAST. Students assigned to take an alternate assessment should take the California Alternate Assessment for Science.
Visit the California Department of Education (CDE) California Science Test web page for additional information.
The California Science Test (CAST) and the Next Generation Science Standards video presents an opportunity to learn about the standards and how they are built into the CAST. The video has information about the structure of the CAST and the types of questions students can expect to see on the assessment.
Computer-based Test Administration Materials
- CAASPP Online Test Administration Manual
- Smarter Balanced Summative and CAST scripts —web-based manual chapter
- Smarter Balanced Summative and CAST scripts —stand-alone document
- CAASPP Remote Testing Information
Test Coordinator Resources
- Available Resources for the California Science Test
- Organization of the California Science Test (Posted 04/06/23)
- Science Test Administration for High School Students (Updated 03/31/23)
- CAST Practice and Training Test Flyer (Updated 03/31/23)
Paper–Pencil Test Administration Directions for Administration (DFAs)
Requests for CAST paper–pencil tests are reviewed and approved by the CDE.
- CAASPP Paper–Pencil Testing Test Administration Manual
- CAST Directions for Administration (DFAs)
- CAST Test Site Packaging and Return Instructions (Posted 02/07/23)
- DEI Instructions for CAASPP Paper–Pencil Testing
Testing Notification Templates
Parent/Guardian notification templates that can be used to notify parents and guardians of the year's statewide assessments are available on the Parent/Guardian Notification web page.
Practice Test Scoring Guides
The Smarter Balanced practice and training tests include all accessibility resources found in the operational assessments. Refer to the Online Practice Test Scoring Guides, Preparing for Administration (PFAs), and Directions for Administration (DFAs) web page for additional information.
Test Administrator Tutorial for General Assessments
The Test Administrator Tutorial is designed to prepare test administrators to administer the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics, the California Science Test, and the California Spanish Assessment. This tutorial is optional and may be used in addition to the LEA's local training.
The tutorial is available on the CAASPP Test Administrator Tutorial web page on the CAASPP website, so no logon information is required. This public offering does not allow for tracking of course completion. LEA CAASPP coordinators can use the Test Administration Tutorial course on the Moodle Training Site if they want to track staff completion of the course. Moodle will provide participants with an online Certificate of Completion after a participant answers the Checks for Understanding questions correctly.
The following resources are available for LEA CAASPP coordinators and site CAASPP coordinators:
- CAASPP Test Administrator Tutorial Moodle Template Letter (Posted 01/11/23)
- Moodle Access At-A-Glance (Posted 01/18/22)
Once it has been determined that a student should receive an embedded or non-embedded designated support or accommodation, an LEA CAASPP coordinator or site CAASPP coordinator should assign the student's accessibility resource(s) in TOMS at least 48 hours prior to testing. More information about accessibility resources can be found on the CAASPP Accessibility Resources web page.
A student taking the CAST can access the embedded Desmos calculator during the entire test. The calculator that appears in the test delivery system is assigned on the basis of the student's grade level. The student can resize and reposition the calculator on the screen as needed.
The Desmos calculator is free and available all year for the student to build familiarity with this resource. A student using Job Access with Speech (JAWS®) can use the Desmos calculator.
Translated Test Directions
Translated test directions are available as a non-embedded designated support. A biliterate student or adult can read these directions in conjunction with the CAST. Refer to the CAST Translated Test Directions web page to download a language-specific PDF.
Science Reference Tools
The CAST assessments for grade eight and high school include a periodic table of the elements and a reference sheet of formulas that students may access during online testing as universal tools. The reference sheet provides all formulas that a student may need to use in responding to a test item; however, this does not imply that the student will receive a specific item type. The purposes of these reference tools are to signal that students do not need to memorize formula sheets and to ensure that students have equal access to the tools during testing. These reference tools are not meant to guide instruction.
Refer to the Printing Enlarged Science Reference Tools quick start guide if the student requires the science reference tools to be enlarged and printed on 11×17 paper.
An updated and accessible periodic table of the elements is available for all students on the practice and training tests. This periodic table can be resized and moved within the item and is accessible for a student using JAWS.
A printable CAST periodic table has been provided as a resource intended for classroom use. This printable version closely resembles the online periodic table available in the CAST and can be downloaded and printed to give a student practice using the periodic table in a format similar to the online version. Students are encouraged to practice using both types of periodic table resources throughout the year.
Files that contain a periodic table and reference sheet of formulas—.brf and.prn files—are intended to be printed using a braille embosser.
- Periodic Table of the Elements for Grade Eight and High School—English (Updated 01/25/22)
- Periodic Table of the Elements for Grade Eight and High School—Spanish (Posted 12/02/22)
- Braille Periodic Table of the Elements for Grade Eight and High School (PRN) (Posted 12/21/18)
- Grade Eight Reference Sheet (Updated 08/04/22)
- High School Reference Sheet (Updated 08/04/22)
- Braille Grade Eight Reference Sheet (BRF) (Posted 12/18/18)
- Braille High School Reference Sheet (BRF) (Posted 08/26/22)
Estimated Testing Times
Administration of the CAST is estimated to take approximately two hours. Note that the CAST is an untimed test.
The CAST is composed of six segments of test questions: two or three segments of discrete (stand-alone) questions followed by three or four PTs, where each PT is a segment. It is strongly recommended that a PT be started and completed in a single test session and that students only pause the test after the end of a segment.
Once a student completes the CAST, the student's score is available in the California Educator Reporting System (CERS) . Student Score Reports (SSRs) are produced and available for download in TOMS and made available to parents and guardians through parent or student portals.
Each student receives an SSR in English and one in the student's primary language if that language is Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Filipino, Korean, or Cantonese (traditional Chinese). To view a sample SSR in each language, visit the CAASPP Sample Student Score Reports (SSRs) web page. If the student needs an SSR in one of the provided languages and that language is not the student's primary language, the LEA should change the language of the SSR in TOMS prior to student testing.
LEA CAASPP coordinators and site CAASPP coordinators have the ability to submit STAIRS cases in TOMS as a means of reporting testing incidents. Refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Security Incidents and Appeals Procedure Guide and the Test Security web page for more information.
Last Reviewed: February 16, 2022