New State Academic Assessments

California's new student assessment system is known as California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).  CAASPP is part of a larger plan for ensuring high-quality teaching and learning in every school.  
The primary purpose of state testing is to provide parents and students with more accurate information about how well students are learning.  Teachers want to know what students know so they can adjust their instruction.  Like class assignments and report cards, tests provide one more way to monitor student progress.
This spring, district students in grades three through eight and eleven will take new computer-based tests during the first state-wide administration of the CAASPP.   Parents and educators will get the results in late spring.  According to District Superintendent Pat Kelley, "MVUSD will not use the results to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade level or in what classes they will be placed next year." 

The new tests are fundamentally different from the old tests in the following ways:

  • The questions are based on the state's new standards and the new tests will be more challenging
  • A wider range of questions are tailored to accurately identify knowledge and skills
  • Different types of questions allow students to demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving and apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems
  • The tests will be taken online.  During the tests, the difficulty of questions will change based on individual student responses. Each student will receive a different set of questions in order to pinpoint areas of understanding, as well as areas of difficulty.  This is known as computer-adaptive testing which allows for a far more precise measurement of student skills and achievement than traditional paper-and-pencil tests which give all students the same set of questions. 
Test scores will be reported this spring
Because the tests are taken online, results are available to teachers, schools and school districts much more quickly than results from previous tests. Parents will also receive a report on the results of their child’s tests much more quickly than previous test results were provided.  Reports will include an overall score, a description of their child’s achievement level in English language arts and mathematics and other information. Paired with school report cards, these assessment reports should give parents a clear understanding of their children’s academic strengths and challenges. 
Results can’t be compared to earlier state assessments
Because the new tests are more difficult and they will measure different content and skills, the scores cannot be compared with scores students received on previous STAR tests. Rather, this year's results will establish a new starting point for the progress students are expected to make over time.  
What results can we expect? 
California has set high proficiency levels on the new state assessments because the new content standards set higher expectations for students.  The new tests are designed to assess student performance against these higher expectations.

Based on projections from the 2014 Smarter Balanced field tests conducted in California and 21 other states, it is likely scores will decline for most, if not all, students and fewer students will score at the higher achievement levels on the new assessments, especially in the first few years.   Students, parents and teachers should not be discouraged or overly concerned by a decline in scores.  A drop in test scores does not mean students are sliding backwards or learning less. Rather, the test results will be just one measurement of how students are doing in school and how well they are meeting the higher expectations.
MVUSD will not use the results to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade level or in what classes they will be placed next year. 
State assessments are just one measure
This year's test results should be looked at in context along with other metrics—including other district assessments, report card grades, and portfolios of student work—to determine how well students are learning.  Patience and persistence will be required to ensure a successful transition to the more challenging standards in our schools.
CAASPP Components 
The CAASPP System encompasses the following assessment components: 
  • Smarter Balanced Assessments utilizing computer-adaptive tests and performance tasks that allow students to show what they know and are able to do.
  • Federally-required science assessments - California Standards Tests, [CST], California Modified Assessment [CMA], and California Alternate Performance Assessment [CAPA] for students in grades 5, 8, and 10. 
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment [CAPA] for ELA and mathematics for special education student in grades two through eleven if noted in the IEP
  • Early Assessment Program [EAP] in ELA and mathematics for students in grade 11 is now a part of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  The EAP provides important information as to whether students are college ready.  Students will receive a college readiness status of either “Ready”, “Conditionally Ready”, or “Not Ready,” based on this test.  Students who receive a status of “Ready” or “Conditionally Ready,” will be able to avoid taking college entrance exams and remedial classes in college. 
  • Other state assessments include the California High School Exit Exam and the Fitnessgram

For more information, visit the Parent/Student tab of the CDE CAASPP Web page.  

Last Modified on April 23, 2015