Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress–All Questions

About the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Assessments

What assessments are part of the CAASPP?

The CAASPP System consists of the following assessments:

  • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics
  • Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments for ELA and mathematics
  • California Alternate Assessments for ELA, mathematics, and science
  • California Science Test
  • California Spanish Assessment

Do practice and training tests produce scores?

No. Practice and training tests are intended to allow educators, parents/guardians, students, and other stakeholders, to become familiar with the format and functionality of the online assessment and are not intended to produce results.

Practice tests assess some of the standards included on the operational assessments and provide a preview of item types. Scoring guides are available for these tests to provide correct responses and related scoring considerations.

Training tests are much shorter and are intended to allow students to become familiar with the various item types within the online testing platform. Some training tests do not have scoring guides.

Can a private school purchase any of the CAASPP assessments?

No. California has paid for membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and has paid for the development of other CAASPP assessments, so only public schools have access to all California assessments.

Where can I find blueprints for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics, the California Science Test (CAST), and the California Spanish Assessment (CSA), and what do they contain?

The Smarter Balanced blueprints for ELA and mathematics identify the number of items, score points, and depth of knowledge for items associated with each assessment target.

The CAST Blueprint identifies how test forms will be assembled, how test segments contribute to individual scores, and which performance expectations will be assessed.

The CSA Blueprint identifies the number of items and points to be included in an operational assessment for each language arts domain assessed in grades three through eight and high school.

The blueprints are as follows:

If a student leaves one local educational agency (LEA) before the academic year ends and enrolls in another LEA, what happens to the student's scores from the LEA where the student was tested?

If a student completes testing in all content areas at one LEA and then enrolls at a new LEA, the student will not be tested at the new LEA, but the student's score report will be provided to the new LEA.

If a student moves to a new local educational agency (LEA), what action should the previous LEA take if data for that student continues to appear in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

Consult with the LEA's California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) coordinator to determine whether the student's information has been updated in CALPADS. If the student has been updated in CALPADS and continues to appear in TOMS external icon, the LEA CAASPP coordinator should contact the California Technical Assistance Center.

If necessary, will California Technical Assistance Center be able to correct students' grade-level information for new students during the testing window?

This applies only to summative assessments: If a student has not completed testing and a change to the assessed grade level is requested, the local educational agency (LEA) will need to submit a Security and Test Administration Incident Report (STAIRS) case in Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon. 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 form is submitted by the CAASPP test site coordinator). For additional information, refer to the STAIRS/Appeals Process for Summative Assessments web page.

How long will student data continue to show in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) after students are exited from the school in California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) for the end-of-year reporting?

The data in CALPADS and TOMS external icon is updated nightly, with the following approximate turnaround times for CALPADS changes to be reflected in TOMS:

LEA CALPADS Uploads Enrollments or Changes in TOMS
Monday Wednesday
Tuesday Thursday
Wednesday Friday
Thursday Monday
Friday Tuesday

Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

Which grade levels participate in the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments?

Students in grade levels three through eight and grade eleven participate in the Smarter Balanced assessments for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics.

What are the components of the Smarter Balanced assessments?

The Smarter Balanced assessments are comprised of two components: the computer adaptive test (CAT) and the performance tasks (PTs).

What is a performance task (PT)?

A PT is a part of the Smarter Balanced assessment that requires students to synthesize multiple sources of information, critically analyze, and develop an extended response to a real-world problem.

How many questions are in each segment of an online assessment?

The number of test questions within a segment varies by content area, grade, and test type (i.e., computer adaptive test or performance task).

How should schools sequence and schedule the components of the Smarter Balanced assessments?

For the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the performance task (PT) and computer adaptive test (CAT) portions on separate days. Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the CAT portion and then the PT. Local educational agencies or schools may opt to administer the assessments in a different order, if needed.

How long will the Smarter Balanced assessments take?

The estimated amount of time individual students need will depend on the grade level, content area, and type of items. The time estimates do not reflect total computer lab time (including time needed to start computers, log students on, etc.); they estimate only the time students will spend testing for each content area.

Content Area Grade(s) CAT items in hrs:mins PT in hrs:mins Total hrs:mins
ELA 3–5 1:30 2:00 3:30
ELA 6–8 1:30 2:00 3:30
ELA 11 2:00 2:00 4:00
Mathematics 3–5 1:30 1:00 2:30
Mathematics 6–8 2:00 1:00 3:00
Mathematics 11 2:00 1:30 3:30
Both 3–5 3:00 3:00 6:00
Both 6–8 3:30 3:00 6:30
Both 11 4:00 3:30 7:30

English Learner (EL) Students

Will an English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessment still be assigned for English learner (EL) students identified in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

Yes. Students identified as ELs in TOMS external icon will still be assigned the ELA assessment unless the local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinator or the CAASPP test site coordinator has indicated that an individual student is eligible for a one-time exemption (1) because the student has been enrolled in a U.S. school for fewer than 12 months as determined on or after April 15 of the previous school year, or (2) the alternate assessment has been specified in the student's individualized education program.

Can an exempt English learner (EL) student take English language arts/literacy (ELA) components?

Yes. An EL student who is technically exempt can still take the ELA assessment upon request by the student's parent/guardian. The LEA CAASPP coordinator or the CAASPP test site coordinator must ensure that the student is registered for the assessment in Test Operations Management System external icon, if necessary (in the case of the California Alternate Assessment for ELA), and that the student's demographic data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System is configured appropriately.

Which entry date into the U.S. school system determines if an English learner (EL) student needs to take the English language arts/literacy assessment?

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, Section 850(w) external icon, a recently arrived EL is one who is in his or her first 12 months of attending school in the U.S. as determined on or after April 15 of the previous school year.

What are the testing requirements for English learner (EL) students cumulatively enrolled for less than 12 months (e.g., the student disenrolled from and then reenrolled in a U.S. school)?

All students in grades three through eight and grade eleven must participate in the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics. Participation in the California Science Test (CAST) is required for all students in grades five and eight, and once in high school (i.e., in grade ten, eleven, or twelve). All students must take a science assessment by the end of grade twelve.

Students are exempt from taking Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts/literacy (ELA) in their first year enrolled, defined as having enrolled after April 15 of the prior year. Local educational agencies can administer the Smarter Balanced assessment in ELA to EL students enrolled for less than 12 months, but it will not be counted for accountability. The California Spanish Assessment, given in grades three through eight and high school, is an optional Spanish-language arts assessment available for students who want a measure of their Spanish reading, writing mechanics, and listening skills.

California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA), Mathematics, and Science

How do I determine the California Alternate Assessment version assignment for a school site?

Version assignments for the English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, and science assessments are available on the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) web page. Please note that ELA and mathematics version assignments may be different from version assignments for science.

Where are the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) Directions for Administration (DFAs)?

The CAA DFAs for English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, and science are located in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon (secure website, logon required). These documents are secure materials; they should be stored securely and, when no longer needed, destroyed securely.

You can access these DFAs in TOMS as follows:

  • Select the [Resources] button in the top navigation bar.
  • Select either CAA for ELA and Mathematics DFAs or CAA for Science DFAs from the Available Materials list.
  • Select the button corresponding with the grade level being tested.
  • Scroll down the page to find the version number assigned.
  • Select a PDF link to initiate the download process.

How do I calculate whether my local educational agency (LEA) exceeds the 1 percent threshold of students using the California Alternate Assessment?

Access the CAASPP LEA-Level Student Test Assignment Report in the Test Operations Management System external icon to view how many test assignments are distributed between the general assessment and the alternate assessment; this information is not calculated at the school level. Do not use the Online Reporting System or other means to calculate this information. Refer to the California Department of Education One Percent Threshold on Alternate Assessments external icon web page for additional information.

What are the eligibility requirements for the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs)?

Please refer to the California Department of Education Alternate Assessment IEP Team Guidance external icon web page for the definition of "eligible students" as it applies to students who take the CAAs. To be able to use the Test Operations Management System external icon to assign a student to take the CAAs, the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System education program code (field 3.13) must be set to "special education" (value 144), the primary disability category (field 3.21) must not be blank, and the enrollment code must be either 10 or 30.

Which grade levels participate in the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs)?

Eligible students in grades three through eight and grade eleven participate in the CAAs for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Students in grades five and eight and once in high school (i.e., grade ten, eleven, or twelve) will take the alternate science assessment.

What standards are assessed on the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science?

The CAA for Science is aligned with alternate achievement standards (i.e., Science Connectors) that are linked to the California Next Generation Science Standards.

What do California Alternate Assessment (CAA) test examiners (TEs) need to complete to be certified to administer the CAAs?

TEs are required to complete the CAA Test Examiner Tutorial, which is available on the CAAs web page. Upon completion of the tutorial, TEs must present their resulting completion certificate to their CAASPP test site coordinator or local educational agency CAASPP coordinator. To receive the certificate for the online tutorial, TEs must listen to 100 percent of the audio and answer all in-module questions correctly.

Does a test examiner (TE) or the computer read the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, or science questions to the student, or must the student read the questions?

The TE reads the CAA for ELA, mathematics, or science questions to the student. The script in the Directions for Administration (DFA) contains the exact wording that must be read aloud to the student, except when general adaptations are given. Pictures or other visual materials within the assessment may be described as needed for a student with visual impairment using the alternative text provided in the DFA.

What happens if a student is logged off after 30 minutes of inactivity while taking the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, or science? Will the student be able to continue the test at the last unanswered question or change previous answers?

The CAAs are untimed and can be administered over as many sessions and days as needed. The assessment may be paused and resumed as many times as necessary to elicit the student's best performance. The pause-and-resume feature can be used throughout the day, over several days, and at any time during the test administration window.

A student is automatically logged off the system after 30 minutes of inactivity. Logging back on to the assessment will return the student to the last unanswered question. The student will be able to return to previous questions—at the stage of the assessment where the student last left off—to change answers for the ELA and mathematics assessments.

If a student is eligible to take one California Alternate Assessment (CAA), does the student need to take the CAA in all subjects?

If a student is eligible to take an alternate assessment, the student must take the CAA in all subjects for which the assessment is available in the student's grade level.

If an English learner (EL) student is eligible and assigned to take the California Alternate Assessment (CAA), how is the student assigned to take the Alternate English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)?

If an EL student is designated for the CAA, then that student will be designated for the Alternate ELPAC external icon as well (and vice versa).

What is the Student Response Check (SRC)?

The SRC establishes whether the student communicates consistent and observable responses to test questions. The outcome of the SRC determines whether the rest of the assessment should be administered for the student. The Directions for Administration contains specific instructions on how to administer the SRC.

In the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for English language arts/literacy and mathematics, the SRC is administered using the first four test questions. The CAA for Science does not include a SRC. Instead, the test examiner has a "no response" option that can be selected if the student is not engaging with the test.

California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science

When is the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science testing window?

The CAA for Science is administered as four separate embedded performance tasks (PTs) that are integrated into each student's instruction. Embedded PTs are available for administration any time, in any order, between September and the end of the instructional year or July 15, whichever comes first. This is different from the selected testing window set by the school.

All four embedded PTs must be attempted during this period for a student to be considered as having participated in the CAA for Science.

Please note that each embedded PT expires 45 calendar days after logging a student on to the test delivery system. This 45 calendar day expiration date applies only to an embedded PT that the student logged on to and attempted.

How should I use the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science Administration Planning Guide?

The Administration Planning Guide provides LEAs with basic information about the CAA for Science and test security, the Science Connectors, and a schedule planning template to assist in deciding the best time to administer the four embedded performance tasks throughout the instructional calendar. The grade-level and version-specific guides, and version assignments can be found on the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) web page.

What is individualization and how do I know which items to individualize?

Individualization is the process of adapting the orienting activity or item to meet individual student needs, based on the educator's knowledge of the student and the needs identified in the student's individualized education program. The Directions for Administration contain information on what can be individualized.

What is an orienting activity?

An orienting activity is a nonscorable activity that is designed to engage and familiarize the student with a science concept that was taught previously. The purpose of an orienting activity is to reengage the student with the content prior to administering the assessment. For example, an orienting activity might contain a video that shows the student a cotton ball and a penny, and then categorizes each object as either having a hard property or a soft property.

Test examiners can individualize either an orienting activity or some items to best meet the needs of the student, as indicated in the student's individualized education program. The Directions for Administration contains specific instructions on what can be individualized within a grade-level assessment.

How do I know which students in my school have completed their science requirement by taking all four embedded performance tasks (PTs)?

There are four reports in the Test Operations Management System external icon that will track student-level completions, which will allow local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators and test site coordinators to know when a student in their organization has completed all four embedded PTs:

  • LEA-Level High School Participation Report for the California Science Test (CAST) and the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science
  • CAASPP Student Completion Status Summary Report (for the LEA)
  • CAASPP School-Level High School Participation Report for the CAST and CAA for Science
  • CAASPP School-Level Student Completion Status Report

California Science Test (CAST)

To which standards are the California Science Test (CAST) aligned?

The CAST is aligned with the California Next Generation Science Standards external icon.

Will there be California Science Test (CAST) interim assessments?

CAST interim assessments are not available at this time.

What types of questions are in the California Science Test (CAST)?

The CAST consists of stand-alone or discrete questions and two or more performance tasks. Questions can be multiple-choice, where the student selects one or more options; constructed-response, where the student writes a text response; or technology-enhanced, where the student performs an action (such as indicating a part of a graphic), selects an option from a drop-down menu, completes a data table or diagram using drag-and-drop functionality, or otherwise responds in a way that takes advantage of the online test delivery platform.

What are the differences between the California Science Test (CAST) discrete items and performance tasks (PTs)?

The CAST discrete items segment consists of predominately machine-scorable items that focus on the breadth of the performance expectations (PEs), meaning that the stand-alone items assess a wide range of PEs. Each student receives from 32–46 discrete items.

The CAST PT consists of four to eight items. Each student receives two or three PTs, comprised of 12–19 items, assigned randomly, which focus on the depth of two or three PEs.

Which students will participate in the California Science Test (CAST)?

Students will take the CAST in grades five and eight, and once in high school (i.e., grade ten, eleven, or twelve). All students in grades five and eight are automatically registered for the CAST in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon. If a grade twelve student has not already taken the CAST in grade ten or eleven, TOMS will automatically register that student for the CAST.

How do I know which high school students in my school have completed their science testing requirement?

There are two reports in the Test Operations Management System external icon that will track student-level completions, which will allow local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators and test site coordinators to know when a student in their organization has completed science testing:

  • CAASPP LEA-Level High School Participation Report for the CAST and CAA for Science
  • CAASPP School-Level High School Participation Report for the CAST and CAA for Science

How do I know which students in my school have completed the science assessment?

There are two reports in the Test Operations Management System external icon that will track student-level completions, which will allow local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators and test site coordinators to know when a student in their organization has completed science testing:

  • CAASPP Student Completion Status Summary Report (for the LEA)
  • CAASPP School Level Student Completion Status Report

How do I know which high school students are registered for the California Science Test (CAST)?

There are two reports in the Test Operations Management System external icon that provide information about CAST registrations. They each contain a current list of students enrolled in grades ten, eleven, and twelve according to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System. These reports provide information about students' science-testing requirements. Each report indicates whether a student is registered to take the science assessment (i.e., the CAST or the California Alternate Assessment [CAA] for Science), has taken a science assessment, or is available to be registered for a science assessment. The two reports are as follows:

  • Local educational agency (LEA)-Level High School Participation Report for the CAST and the CAA for Science—provides all enrolled students in the LEA
  • School-Level High School Participation Report for the CAST and the CAA for Science—provides all enrolled students at the selected school within an LEA

Test site coordinators can download a similar report at the school level.

How do I assign students in grades ten and eleven to the California Science Test (CAST)?

To assign students to the CAST, you can either assign them one by one or upload a file to Test Operations Management System external icon.

When does the administration of the California Science Test (CAST) take place?

The test administration window for the CAST is available in January through July. Local educational agencies (LEAs) may administer the CAST after completing 66 percent of their instructional year through the end of the school year or July 15, whichever comes first. The selected testing window for the CAST is the same as that for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments and California Alternate Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

Is the California Science Test (CAST) computer adaptive?

No. The CAST is not adaptive.

How many segments are in the California Science Test (CAST)?

The CAST is divided into five test segments and one student survey. All students will receive two discrete item segments in test segments 1 and 2 and two performance task (PT) segments in test segments 4 and 5. In test segment 3, the test delivery system will randomly assign students to receive either a discrete item segment or a PT segment.

How many items are there on the California Science Test (CAST)?

The number of items a student will receive depends on the test segments the student is assigned; therefore, a student may get 44 to 61 items. The discrete item segments contain between 12 and 17 items. Students will receive two or three discrete item segments and two or three PTs, which contain four to eight items. Please refer to the California Science Test Blueprint external icon web document for more information about CAST test segments.

How long does it take to administer the California Science Test (CAST)?

The average time for students to complete the CAST is approximately two hours. However, the CAST is an untimed test, so students can take as long as they need to complete it. Each of the test segments is expected to take approximately 20–25 minutes. The time estimates do not reflect total computer lab time (including the time needed to start computers, log students on, etc.).

Can multiple grade levels take the California Science Test (CAST) in a single test session?

Yes. You may administer the CAST to multiple grade levels or with different content area assessments in one single test session.

When does the California Science Test (CAST) expire?

The CAST testing opportunity remains active until the student completes and submits the assessment, up to 45 calendar days after the student logs on to the assessment or when the testing window ends. The time limit of 45 calendar days includes all six segments of the CAST (i.e., discrete items, performance tasks, and a student survey).

How will a test administrator (TA) know a student's progress when taking the California Science Test (CAST)?

TAs have the ability to view the segment and question number that a student is currently answering. For example, if a student is on segment 2, the TA Interface might display "Segment: Discrete Items" and "21/34." This should help TAs monitor their students' progression through the assessment and pause the assessment before students begin a new segment—especially a performance task (PT)—if there is not enough time to complete the PT. TAs can determine which segment a student is on based on the number of questions the student is presented with.

What are the suggested pausing points for the California Science Test (CAST)?

If testing will occur over multiple test sessions, students are encouraged to complete a performance task before pausing the assessment for more than 20 minutes. One recommended pausing point is after a student completes the second discrete item block. For more information about recommended pausing scenarios, please refer to the Suggested Pausing Points for the California Science Test external icon web document.

How will students know their progress on the California Science Test (CAST)?

Students will be able to track how much of the CAST they have completed using the progress bar on the student's screen. They also will be presented with their current question number as well as a drop-down list with the numbers of the questions they already have answered. Students will be asked to review their answers before continuing to the next segment. They will not be able to go back to a previous segment after moving on to the next.

Do students know when a test segment has ended?

Yes. Students will be asked to review their answers before continuing to the next test segment. They will not be able to return to the previous segment after moving on to the next segment.

What calculators are available for students during the California Science Test (CAST)?

Students may use a Desmos calculator as a universal tool when taking the CAST. The calculator is available for use on all items. This is the same Desmos calculator used in the Smarter Balanced mathematics assessment. These calculators are available in the CAST practice and training tests and are fully accessible. For grade five, students use a four-function basic calculator external icon. For grade eight and high school, students use a scientific calculator external icon. Encourage students to try the calculator prior to testing by taking the practice or training tests, or by visiting the Desmos external icon website. If a student requires a physical calculator, the calculator must be assigned to the student as a non-embedded designated support indicating use of a non-embedded calculator.

California Spanish Assessment (CSA)

Is the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) mandatory?

No. The CSA is an optional assessment. Local educational agencies (LEAs) can administer the assessment to any number of students within the LEA, as appropriate (i.e., you can test one student, one class, one school, etc.).

Why should my local educational agency (LEA) administer the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

The following are benefits of the CSA administration:

  • Provides a measurement of Spanish reading and language arts competency
  • Informs instructional practices and program design
  • Promotes bilingualism and biliteracy
  • Provides LEAs with a means to evaluate their Spanish language programs

What does the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) assess?

The CSA assesses reading, writing mechanics, and listening in Spanish. The CSA is delivered entirely in Spanish. However, three demographic questions at the beginning are delivered in both Spanish and English.

To which standards are the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) aligned?

The CSA is aligned with the California Common Core State Standards en Español external icon, which are a translation of the California Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts & Literacy external icon and include linguistic augmentations specific to the Spanish language.

Who can or should take the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

  • Students seeking a measure that recognizes their Spanish-specific reading, writing mechanics, and listening skills should take the CSA.
  • Students receiving instruction in Spanish, including students with any level of Spanish language skill, can take the CSA.

Which grade levels participate in the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

  • Students in grades three through eight and high school (grades nine through twelve) participate in the CSA.
  • There is a grade-level assessment in each of grades three through eight and one assessment in high school. High school students may take the CSA once per year.

Is the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) designed to be accessible to all students?

Yes. The CSA is designed to be accessible to all students. Most of the accessibility resources that students receive in the Smarter Balanced English language arts/literacy assessment are available for students in the CSA. Please refer to the Student Accessibility Resources external icon web page, a California Department of Education web page, with information about the embedded and non-embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations allowed as part of CAASPP.

When is the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) testing window?

The test administration window for the CSA is available beginning in January through July. The testing window closes on the last day of school or July 15, whichever comes first.

Is the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) a computer adaptive test?

No. The CSA is a computer-based, nonadaptive, linear assessment.

Is there a paper–pencil version of the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

No. The CSA is administered entirely online.

How can my local educational agency (LEA) participate in the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

As with other CAASPP assessments, use the Test Operations Management System external icon to manage the administration of the CSA. LEA CAASPP coordinators, in cooperation with test site coordinators, must assign the CSA to students in their selected LEA who are expected to take the CSA. A subset of schools within an LEA or students within a school can be administered the CSA. The CSA is completely voluntary.

How do I assign students to take the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)?

The local educational agency CAASPP coordinator can assign students one at a time or upload a Test Assignments file in Test Operations Management System external icon to assign the CSA to a group of students.

How long will it take to administer the California Spanish Assessment (CSA) and can it be completed over multiple sessions?

The administration of the CSA takes approximately two hours. Note that the CSA is an untimed assessment, but most students complete it within two hours. The time estimate does not reflect total computer lab time (including the time needed to start computers, log students on, etc.); it is only an estimate of the time students will spend testing.

What are the demographic survey questions?

At the beginning of the California Spanish Assessment, there are three student-specific demographic questions. The test administrator should guide students through this survey, as accuracy is paramount. The questions are presented in both Spanish and English. The three survey questions are as follows:

  • Did you receive instruction in Spanish in the 20XX–XX school year? ¿Recibiste educación en español en el año escolar 20XX–XX?
    • Yes (Sí)
    • No (No)
  • Which program were you enrolled in? ¿En qué tipo de programa escolar estuviste matriculado/inscrito?
    • One-Way Immersion (Inmersión únicamente para hablantes de español)
    • Dual-Language Immersion (Inmersión para hablantes de español y de inglés)
    • Developmental Bilingual (Programas de desarrollo del idioma)
    • Heritage Language or Indigenous Language (Programas para hispanohablantes [hablantes de español])
    • Spanish as a foreign language (i.e., Spanish I, Spanish II, etc.) (Español como lengua extranjera [es decir, Español I, Español II, etc.])
    • None of the above (Ninguno de los anteriores)
  • What percentage of your school day instruction was provided in Spanish? ¿Qué porcentaje de tu educación diaria recibiste en español?
    • 0–25%
    • 26–50%
    • 51–75%
    • 76–100%

Student Accessibility Resources and Test Settings: Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations

What is the online test settings deadline for the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

The online test settings must be assigned in TOMS external icon before the student begins the first assessment.

How soon can a local educational agency (LEA) start uploading the accommodations and designated supports for students in Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

LEAs can start uploading as soon as their students appear in TOMS external icon. Designated supports and accommodations must be set by the responsible LEA, which is the LEA in which the student is enrolled, before the student begins testing.

Have students' settings from the previous test administration been preserved?

Student settings do not carry over from year to year in the Test Operations Management System external icon. Designated supports and accommodations must be reassigned for the current test administration.

When specified accommodations and designated supports are entered into Test Operations Management System (TOMS), how soon do they become available for students? Is it the same for interim and summative assessments?

Enrollment data in TOMS external icon, including specified accommodations and designated supports for interim and summative assessments, is updated in a background process that happens every few hours. Local educational agency CAASPP coordinators and CAASPP test site coordinators should update accommodations and designated supports at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled testing time, to avoid testing irregularities caused, for example, by delays in updating caused by large file sizes or the number of files in the queue.

Will a local educational agency (LEA) have to set designated supports and accommodations for late-enrolling students in Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

No. If a student's test settings have been properly set in TOMS external icon, they will move with the student to whichever LEA the student is enrolled in next.

Once schools assign test settings for students in the Test Administrator (TA) Interface, will these apply for both interim and summative assessments?

Test settings in the TA Interface for the interim assessments are for that test session only and are not related to the settings assigned in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon for student use in the summative assessments. The only way to assign test settings for the summative assessments is for the local educational agency CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator to make the assignments in TOMS.

Do California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) flags for individualized education program designations need to be activated to select accommodations, designated supports, or both for the interim assessments?

For interim assessments, the test administrator (TA) can select any accommodation in the TA Interface for a student's interim assessment, regardless of what is specified in CALPADS.

For summative assessments, the accommodation or designated support must be set in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon by the local educational agency CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator. For the student to be eligible to receive accommodations, unlisted resources, or both, the CALPADS education program code field must be set for "special education" (value 144) and provide a primary disability category or "504 Plan" (value 101).

How are accessibility resources for the interim assessments set?

The resource settings for the interim assessments can be set in one of the following ways for a student in any grade:

  • Test settings can be added one by one in Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon on the View and Edit Students page or through the "Online Test Settings" batch upload template on the Students Upload page in TOMS. Using one of these methods also will assign the test setting for whatever summative assessments the student takes.
  • Authorized users can assign test settings for interim assessments one-by-one in the Test Administrator Interface; however, those test settings are only valid for a single test session and are not preserved for any future administration of a summative or interim assessment.

Can I use web browsers outside of the secure browser, or their extensions, for speech-to-text?

No. A browser-based software or extension cannot be used for speech-to-text or any permissive mode setting.

Permissive mode is meant to allow approved applications to run outside of the secure browser for speech-to-text use. You cannot use other web browsers, even with permissive mode, since that would create a security risk.

Also note that speech-to-text is only usable on systems that do not require a kiosk or single-app mode for testing; Windows and Mac desktop and laptop systems are allowed while Chromebooks, iPads, and Android tablets are not supported for speech-to-text.

Information about accessibility resources is available on the Accessibility Resources web page as well as on the California Department of Education's Student Accessibility Resources external icon web page.

Where text-to-speech is not available, can the TA read the assessment aloud?

Read-aloud is only permitted in the following limited circumstances: as a non-embedded designated support for mathematics questions and English language arts/literacy (ELA) questions, as a non-embedded accommodation for ELA passages in grades six through eight and grade eleven, and for students with visual impairment in grades three through eight and grade eleven who do not yet have adequate braille skills.

Are headphones needed for this assessment?

No. However, any students requiring text-to-speech will need headphones.

Are there translated test directions for the Smarter Balanced and California Science Test (CAST) assessments?

Yes. Translated test directions are available on both the Smarter Balanced Translated Test Directions and CAST Translated Test Directions web pages.

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. 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 or 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 or stimuli or scratch paper for future test sessions, unless a student is taking a performance task (PT) that requires multiple test sessions.

TAs should ensure that students write their names (or some other personal identifier) on the scratch paper, collect students' notes at the completion of a test session, and then securely store the scratch paper. The scratch paper should be redistributed for students' use during a subsequent PT test session.

Are global notes retained during a test session?

When notes are used during the English language arts/literacy performance tasks, 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.

Why will local educational agencies (LEAs) need printers?

LEAs may need printers for the students who have print-on-demand as an accommodation. This accommodation allows for paper copies of either passages and stimuli, items, or all of these to be printed for students.

Who is able to set designated supports and accommodations for students in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)?

The local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinator and test site coordinator have the ability to set designated supports and accommodations for students in TOMS external icon. Test site coordinators can only set designated supports and accommodations for students within their test site.

How can a student use speech-to-text on an assessment?

A student can use third-party speech recognition software. However, while there are no recommendations for third-party software, a student's device should come with a free version. A student should use what the student is familiar with. Note the following about using speech-to-text:

  • Set the student's accommodation to permissive mode.
  • Supply the student with a headset and microphone.
  • Launch the speech recognition software, and then open the secure browser.

Speech-to-text cannot be used with a mobile device such as a Chromebook or iPad.

Test Administration

Can additional local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators be designated for an LEA?

The LEA superintendent may designate secondary LEA CAASPP coordinators. Secondary LEA CAASPP coordinators are given the same user role as the primary LEA CAASPP coordinator in electronic systems, such as the Test Operations Management System external icon, but will not be the primary point of contact for the LEA.

How do I gain access to the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) and other CAASPP systems?

For local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinators, access to TOMS external icon and other CAASPP systems is granted once the LEA superintendent has submitted the Superintendent Designation Form in TOMS on behalf of the coordinator. Coordinators must also electronically sign a Test Security Agreement upon their first logon to TOMS. Access for all other LEA staff is granted by the LEA CAASPP coordinator either individually or via batch file upload in TOMS.

When will my testing window be available this year?

The testing window is established by the local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinator according to the California Code of Regulations. You will need to check with your LEA CAASPP coordinator for the exact dates of your testing window.

California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 855(b)(1), 855(b)(2), and 855(c) external icon, establishes the rules for the testing windows for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, the California Alternate Assessment (CAA), the California Science Test, and California Spanish Assessment, which are as follows:

  • Testing shall not begin until the day of completion of 66 percent of a school's annual instructional days.
  • Testing may continue up to and including the last day of school (but no later than July 15).
  • Testing for the CAA for Science can begin in September each year.

If a local educational agency's (LEA's) 25-day testing window goes to the last day of instruction, does the LEA have to test students who enroll the last week of school?

Yes. If a student did not complete one or more of the content-area assessments at the student's previous school, the student must take the assessments for which the student is eligible at the new school as long as the selected testing window is still open in the new LEA. For example, if a student completes an English language arts/literacy assessment at a school, but does not complete a mathematics assessment, and then transfers to a school in an LEA where the testing window is still open, the student must take the mathematics assessment at the new school before the testing window closes at the new LEA.

Is the 25-day test window optional or required?

The 25-day test window is required.

If a student begins testing in one school and then moves to another school before completing the assessment, will the assessment be available at the new school for the student to complete?

Yes. If a student starts testing in one school and then moves to a different school, the test delivery system will retain that assessment for that student.

For example, if the student starts a test segment, answers some questions, and then moves to a different California school, the student can begin, at the new school, where the student left off within that segment.

What data in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) is necessary for students to test?

The minimum data that need to be correct in CALPADS for a student to start testing is as follows:

  • Name
  • Grade level
  • School and local educational agency (LEA) information
  • CALPADS enrollment status of 10 or 30
  • U.S. school entry data
  • Parent/Guardian address (if the LEA wants the address on the Student Score Report)
  • Fields 3.13 (education program) and 3.21 (primary disability) (if the student is to take the CAA or receive designated supports, accommodations, unlisted resources, or any combination of these)
  • All other demographic fields (if the LEA wants to view these fields in the final student data file that is downloadable from TOMS external icon)

CALPADS documentation, including field names and field codes, and information about CALPADS support are available on the California Department of Education California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) external icon web page.

What if a student's enrolled grade level is incorrect in the test delivery system?

Any incorrect student information in the displayed demographic fields must be updated in California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) by an authorized user. The student should not be approved for testing until the grade level appears correctly in the test delivery system. Please work with your CALPADS coordinator to ensure that CALPADS data is corrected.

What if a student was tested using an incorrect Statewide Student Identifier (SSID)?

If a student takes an assessment associated with a different student's SSID, submit a Security and Test Administration Incident Report (STAIRS) incident in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon. The assessment results can be associated with the correct student by following either of the two approaches:

  • If the local educational agency (LEA) wants to allow one or both students to start a new assessment, report the incident and submit a Reset Appeal request when following the STAIRS prompts in TOMS. This is applicable when the assessment is yet to be completed or when one or both students have finished testing.
  • However, if the one or both students have finished testing and the LEA wants to associate the assessment results with the SSID of the correct student without allowing one or both students to start a new assessment, the LEA must report the incident using the STAIRS/Appeals process in TOMS and submit a nonappealable STAIRS case. This is auto approved. The LEA will receive an approval email sent by ca-assessments@ets.org. The approval email confirms that the incident is approved for further processing. In addition, the LEA must contact the California Technical Assistance Center within one business day and provide required details of the incorrect SSID, correct SSID, result ID, and test status information associated with the incident.

For more information about how to submit a STAIRS incident, visit the STAIRS/Appeals Process for Summative Assessments web page.

User Management in the Test Operations Management System

Can students in different grade levels take the test in the same room?

While it is recommended that students be tested with their grade-level cohorts, students in different grade levels can test in the same room in a single test session. The test administrator (TA) must select each grade level and assessment within the TA Interface to be administered during that session.

How long does the test administrator (TA) have between approving the students to test and having the students start the actual test?

As a security measure, TAs are automatically logged off the TA Interface after 30 minutes of TA user inactivity and student inactivity in the test session; this will result in closing the test session. If this occurs, the TA will have to create a new session and the students will have to log on to the new session to resume testing. When starting a new session, the TA should give the students the new Session ID so they can log on and resume testing.

Are there time limits for CAASPP assessments?

No. All CAASPP assessments are untimed.

Can TAs help students use the test tools during testing?

No. The Directions for Administration (DFA) specify the guidance test administrators can and cannot provide to students during testing. However, students do have the ability to view tutorials that are embedded in the test delivery system at any time during testing. Students can also access the tools on practice and training tests with teacher support before testing to gain familiarity with the test tools.

Can test administrators (TAs) and test examiners (TEs) review test questions while students are completing the CAASPP assessments?

For TAs, the answer is no; only students should be viewing the test questions. Staff who would like to become familiar with the types of questions to be administered may review the Online Practice and Training Tests, which are available on the Online Practice and Training Test Portal web page.

For TEs, the answer is yes; because the California Alternate Assessments are administered one on one, the test examiner will access the test questions.

Note that all questions on the summative CAASPP assessments are considered secure test materials.

Can students skip questions or segments?

For the Smarter Balanced assessments and the California Science Test: No. Items must be answered before a student moves on to the next question. A student may flag questions for review and then return to them within the same segment, and according to pause rules.

  • If a student has paused a test within a segment and returns to the test after the 20-minute pause limit has expired, the student will not be able to review or change previously answered items.
  • Once a student has completed a segment and moves on, the student cannot return to the previous segment. For this reason, a student should review responses before continuing to the next segment.

For the California Alternate Assessments: Yes. Students can proceed to the next question without answering all prior questions on the alternate assessments.

Can students return to items that were flagged for review even after the segment is complete?

No. Once a student completes a test segment, they cannot return to the items within that segment.

What advice can be provided for testing students in nonpublic, nonsectarian schools (NPSs)?

Test administrators and test examiners at NPSs should reach out to the local educational agency CAASPP coordinator who is responsible for placing the student at the NPS for information about testing windows and with their questions about CAASPP testing.

Technology

What are the technology requirements for administering the CAASPP online assessments?

Information about supported technology and technology requirements and reference to systems requirements for online testing are in the CAASPP and ELPAC Technical Specifications and Configuration Guide for Online Testing on the Technology Resources web page.

How do I determine a student's technology readiness?

The Technology Readiness Checker for Students (TRCS) is a game-like tool students navigate to create a storyboard. The navigation through the TRCS is similar to the navigation used in a computer-based assessment and can be used to identify the student's technology readiness. The TRCS is not an assessment, does not provide scores, and is entirely optional. The TRCS can be accessed from the Technology Resources web page.

Can students use their mobile devices to complete the assessments?

Yes. Students may test on any tablet that meets the technology requirements for online testing. Please refer to the CAASPP and ELPAC Technical Specifications and Configuration Guide for Online Testing on the Technology Resources web page.

How do I access the secure browser for the online CAASPP assessments?

A secure browser is required on every student device for online testing. Instructions for downloading the secure browser can be found on the Secure Browsers external icon web page.

My school has already downloaded a secure browser for statewide testing. Do we need to download another secure browser?

Yes. Secure browsers are normally released in June, prior to the start of the administration. School personnel must annually download the most up-to-date secure browser for online testing. The secure browser used for the CAASPP is the same secure browser used for the computer-based English Language Proficiency Assessments for California. For additional information, please visit the Technology Resources web page.

Score Reporting

How many copies of the Student Score Report (SSR), per student, will parents/guardians receive and in what languages are the SSRs available?

There will be one SSR in English for each student. If a student's primary language is one of the other languages available for the SSRs—Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin (traditional Chinese), or Filipino—there will be an SSR in that language for the student as well.

If a local educational agency chooses to purchase paper SSRs from Educational Testing Service, two copies of the paper SSR are included in a set, either two in English or one in English and one in the student's primary language if that language is Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin (traditional Chinese), or Filipino.

Will there be a separate file for students who require a Student Score Report (SSR) in an additional language?

A .zip file, available as a bulk download option in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) external icon, will include SSR files for all students for the selected school and grade level, including any SSRs in other languages. All the files will be sorted by Statewide Student Identifier with the exception of those for students who have two SSRs (one in English and one in an additional language). Those students' SSRs will be grouped together at the end of the file. In addition, each bulk download.zip file will contain an index file that lists the SSR files, sorted by last name, first name.

Please refer to the quick reference guide "How to Download Student Score Report PDF Files in TOMS" for more information.

What are the technology requirements for providing Student Score Reports electronically through a parent or student portal?

View the Vendor Integration web page to ensure that your parent or student portal vendor has successfully implemented electronic reporting. Contact the California Technical Assistance Center if your vendor is not on the list.

If the local educational agency (LEA) is providing Student Score Reports (SSRs) electronically, must the LEA still print and mail SSRs?

By providing SSRs to parents/guardians electronically, the LEA is meeting the requirements pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), sections 863(a) and (b) external icon and to 5 CCR Section 11518.15(b) external icon. However, the LEA still has the option to provide paper SSRs—either printed at the LEA or purchased from Educational Testing Service—to parents on a case-by-case basis.

Is there an option to purchase printed Student Score Reports for a select group of students whose parents do not have access to the parent or student portal?

Yes. If you know the Statewide Student Identifiers for these students, you can add them one-by-one or upload a file.

If the local educational agency (LEA) prints the Student Score Reports (SSRs), must they be printed in color?

It is recommended, but not required, that the SSRs be printed in color for parents/guardians. LEAs or schools may print the SSRs in gray scale to save money on printing costs.

How many years' worth of Student Score Reports (SSRs) are stored and for how long?

Historical SSRs up to three years prior to the current administration year are available in the Test Operations Management System external icon.

Are local educational agencies (LEAs) required to keep a hard copy of the CAASPP Student Score Reports (SSRs) in a student's permanent records folder?

LEAs are not required to keep a hard copy of the SSR. Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 863(c) external icon, "Schools are responsible for maintaining pupil's scores with the pupil's permanent school records or for entering the scores into electronic pupil records."

When will Student Score Reports (SSRs) be available for CAASPP assessments?

CAASPP SSRs will be available electronically three weeks after a student completes an assessment. However, for the 2020–21 administration, California Alternate Assessment for Science SSRs will be available in late December 2021.

When does the clock start for sending Student Score Reports (SSRs) to parents/guardians?

For CAASPP: Pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), sections 863(a) and (b) external icon, SSRs must be made available to each student's parent/guardian within 20 working days of receipt of the report at the LEA. However, if the reports are received after the last day of the instructional year, the report must be made available within 20 working days of the next school year.

For the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC): Pursuant to 5 CCR, Section 11518.15(b) external icon, parents/guardians must be notified of summative assessment results within 30 calendar days following receipt of the test results from the test contractor. If the test results are received from the test contractor after the last day of instruction for the school year, the LEA shall notify each student's parent/guardian of the student's results within 15 working days of the start of the next school year.

For both CAASPP and ELPAC: LEAs that opt to print the SSRs or order paper versions from ETS, but want to wait until they have a sufficient number of SSRs, may initially make the reports available to a parent/guardian by providing a convenient place at the school or LEA where the parent/guardian can view and print the SSR before a subsequent mailing.

How are we going to show documentation to a federal program monitoring auditor inquiring whether the parents saw the Student Score Report (SSR)?

There is no requirement to ensure receipt of the SSR by the parent or guardian. It is the local educational agency's responsibility to make the SSR available to the parent or guardian, not to track parent/guardian viewing or receipt.

How will I know whether a parent/guardian has opened or viewed a child's Student Score Report in the parent or student portal?

That will depend on which vendor the local educational agency is using and whether the vendor offers that functionality.

When a student transfers to a different local educational agency (LEA), how long will it take for the student's Student Score Report (SSR) to become available via the Test Operations Management System and the student information system parent or student portal?

Once the student's enrollment is updated in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, that student's SSR will be available to the new LEA in 24 to 48 hours. However, the previous LEA—where the student was enrolled at the end of the previous school year—also will have access to the student's SSR for all the years in which the LEA enrolled and tested that student. This also applies to a matriculation student who has completed the highest grade level offered at a school.

Can the Student Score Reports (SSRs) be read with screen-reading software, such as Job Access With Speech® (JAWS) or another free screen-reading application?

All CAASPP SSRs are accessible, screen readable, and provide adequate color contrast.

Is the Student Score Reports (SSR) accessible on mobile devices?

CAASPP SSRs are PDFs that are accessible and easily viewed on any mobile device. Ease of access will depend on the parent or student portal vendor.

Training and Information

What training resources are available?

A variety of resources are available to help local educational agencies, schools, and students prepare for the administration of the CAASPP assessments.

Practice and Training Tests

Practice and training tests are available on the Test Administrator and Test Examiner Resources for the Online Practice and Training Tests web page. Practice and training tests allow test administrators, test examiners, stakeholders, parents, and students to become familiar with the format and functionality of the online assessment.

Practice tests assess some of the standards that are included on the operational assessment and provide a preview of item types. Practice Test Scoring Guides are available on the Test Administrator and Test Examiner Resources for the Online Practice and Training Tests web page.

Training tests are much shorter in length and are intended to allow students to become familiar with the various question types in the online testing platform. Some training tests do not have scoring guides.

Manuals and Instructions

Several manuals that provide guidance on all aspects of test administration are available on the Manuals and Instructions web page.

Training Videos

The CAASPP Quick Reference Guides and Videos web page provides instructional videos on how to use the Test Operations Management System, test administration, test security, and accessibility resources.