Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)


Which grade levels participate in the CSA?

  • Students in grades three through eight and high school (i.e., grades nine through twelve) participate in the CSA.
  • There is a grade-level test in each of grades three through eight and one test in high school.

Who can/should take the 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.

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

The CSA is a high-quality standardized measurement tool that is aligned to the Common Core State Standard en Español. Therefore, LEAs with Spanish instructional programs that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards en Español will be able to use scores from the CSA and compare them to other LEA Spanish programs across the state whose programs are also aligned to the Common Core en Español. The following are benefits of the CSA administration:

  • Provides a measurement of Spanish reading and language arts competency in addition to English language arts (ELA)/literacy results
  • Informs instructional practices
  • Allows LEAs to test English learners (ELs) and non-ELs at no cost
  • Values bilingualism and biliteracy
  • Helps develop literacy at a deeper level

To which standards are the 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 iconand include linguistic augmentations specific to the Spanish language.

Is the CSA a computer adaptive test?

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

Is there a paper-pencil version of the CSA?

No; the CSA is administered entirely online.

How will the CSA be delivered?

The CSA is delivered online through the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test delivery system. There is no paper-pencil version of the CSA.

In which language is the CSA delivered?

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

What does the CSA assess?

The CSA assesses reading, writing mechanics, and listening in Spanish.

Is the CSA mandatory?

No; the CSA is an optional test. LEAs can administer the test to any number of students within their LEA, as appropriate (i.e., you can test one student, one class, one school, and so on).

What is the purpose of administering the CSA?

CSA administration serves the following purposes:

  • To give students the opportunity to measure their reading, writing mechanics, and listening skills in Spanish
  • To serve, in part, as an optional measure for high school students to obtain the State Seal of Biliteracy
  • To provide LEAs with a means to evaluate their Spanish language programs

If my LEA chooses to administer the CSA, will every school have to participate?

No; the CSA is completely voluntary. Any subset of schools within an LEA or students within a school can be administered the CSA.

How can LEAs use the results of the CSA?

Given the CSA is aligned to the Common Core State Standards en Español, educators teaching Spanish instructional programs that are also aligned to the CCSS en Español, can use the CSA to assess a student’s Spanish reading language arts competency. We also encourage LEAs to evaluate their local Spanish instruction programs to see how well they align to the CCSS en Español. A set of guiding questions will soon be available to help you evaluate your program.

Are there full write items on the CSA?

The CSA operational assessment does not have full write or constructed response (CR) items. CR items will be available for local use via TOMS. CRs are not included in a student’s score and are for local use only.

Scoring and Reporting

Will Student Score Reports be available for parents?

Yes; the operational CSA will produce score reports for all students who take the CSA. For the administration that occurred during the 2018–19 administration year, scores are expected to be available in January of 2020. For the 2019–20 administration, scores are expected to be released late fall of 2020.

Student Score Reports will be available to parents/guardians, with the option of an electronic delivery through a school’s parent or student portal—depending on the LEA’s delivery method. Parents/guardians should contact the school on how the Student Score Reports will be delivered.

What type of information will be reported on the Student Score Reports?

The CSA Student Score Report will provide information about a students’ score reporting range. The score reporting range identifies different levels of performance showing what a student can do at each score reporting range. The Student Score Reports also provide links to additional resources parents/guardians can use to help their child achieve their Spanish reading language arts goals. You can find a sample of a CSA Student Score Report in English and Spanish on the Starting Smarter website external icon.

Test Administration

When did the first operational administration of the CSA take place?

The first operational test administration window for the CSA opened April 1, 2019 and closed July 15, 2019. LEAs were able to test students at any time within this fixed testing window.

When does the second operational administration of the CSA take place?

The second operational test administration window for the CSA opens January 14, 2020 and closes July 15, 2020. LEAs will administer the CSA within their assigned CAASPP testing window only, similar to the Smarter Balanced ELA/literacy and mathematics assessments.

How can my LEA participate in the operational CSA?

The CSA is an optional test that all LEAs can choose to administer. As with other CAASPP assessments, LEAs will use the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) 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.

When will training materials be available for the operational CSA?

How will the CSA be administered?

LEAs will administer the CSA online through the CAASPP test delivery system. Students will take the test using the CAASPP secure browser.

How long will it take to administer the CSA?

The administration of the CSA takes approximately two hours. Note that the CSA is an untimed test, but most students complete it within two hours.

Must the CSA be completed in one session?

No; the CSA is divided into two sections, so LEAs may administer it over multiple test sessions within the testing window.

What are the demographic survey questions?

At the beginning of the CSA, 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 following are the three survey questions:

  • Did you receive instruction in Spanish during this school year? ¿Recibiste educación en español en el año escolar 2018–19? [
    • 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%

What are the technology requirements for the CSA?

The technology requirements for the CSA are aligned with the requirements necessary for all CAASPP assessments, which can be found in the CAASPP and ELPAC Technical Specifications and Configuration Guide for Online Testing external icon.

Where can I get more information about the CSA?

For more information about the CSA, please visit the California Spanish Assessment web page.