California’s statewide assessment program — called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) — is part of our state’s ambitious education remodeling project.
As of spring 2015, California schools replaced old tests with new assessments built to let parents and teachers know how well students are learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world. Depending on school calendars, testing takes place mostly in April and May. Parents should receive their children’s reports during the summer.
Score Reports: What you need to know
- The CAASPP assessment report uses four achievement levels: standard not met, standard nearly met, standard met, standard exceeded. The levels designate the degree of “progress toward mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for success in future coursework.” For 11th-graders, they measure the degree to which students are on track to be ready for college or a career after graduating from high school.
- The scores help improve learning for your child. Scores give teachers the opportunity to adjust instruction and give students and parents an idea of which areas should get extra attention each school year and which areas students have mastered.
- Like progress on a growth chart, the tests, scores and expectations change with your child’s age and grade. As children grow and change, so do the educational standards and related assessments. Although you can see growth from year to year, scores can’t be directly compared to prior years, which measured different grade standards.
- The scores are just one measure of how your child is doing. These new tests are part of an overall system of assessment including classroom assignments, quizzes, report cards and more.
- Ask questions! The score reports generally go to parents before a new school year starts. Parents can start discussions on the score reports with their child’s teacher during back-to-school season and during parent-teacher conferences and other meetings.
Check out these great resources:
- What the Scores Mean — Family-friendly explanations about the assessment scores from California State PTA
- Questions to Ask — Questions for families to ask to stay engaged in their child’s assessment and education
- Smarter Balanced Resources — This infographic from California State PTA and Children Now offers answers and resources on frequently asked assessment questions
- Early Assessment Program — A flier from California State University, California Community Colleges and University of California outlines what the assessments mean for 11th-grade students
- Parent Guides from the CDE — Download the new parent guides from the California Department of Education about the testing system in English or see a full list of parent guides, including grade-level specific information and translation.
What should I look for in my child’s tests?
There may be several assessments used by your child’s school, including interim or benchmark assessments administered throughout the year, as well as a year-end assessment. These tests allow teachers to check on student progress.
To be worthwhile, all tests should:
- Be high-quality. Assessments should measure students’ ability to think critically, synthesize material from multiple sources, and analyze problems. High-quality tests are aligned to standards that prepare students for success beyond high school.
- Measure what matters. Tests should cover what students learn in class and help predict their performance at the end of the year.
- Provide meaningful results that inform instruction. Results from assessments should identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, allowing teachers to improve instruction. Tests should provide results that are timely and easily understandable by parents, teachers and students.
- Go beyond multiple-choice. Tests should include a variety of questions—not just multiple-choice. Writing prompts and math questions that require students to formulate equations or explain their reasoning demonstrate that students truly understand the content.