Student Assessments

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.

California’s statewide assessments were 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 in English language arts, mathematics, and science takes place mostly in April and May. Parents should receive their children’s reports soon after testing in their district is completed.

Score Reports: What you need to know

Beginning in 2019, school districts will be able to share students’ state test scores with parents electronically.

  • 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 should I look for in my child’s tests?

AssessmentsThere 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.



Cada niño, una sola voz

Cada niño, una sola voz. Con más que 750,000 miembros, la mision de la associacion de padres y maestros (PTA por sus siglos en ingles) de California es de impactar positivamente las vidas de todos los ninos y las familias. La PTA se enfoca en cuatro areas principales: educacion, salud, participacion de los padres y asuntos comunitarios.

PTA trabaja para dar fuerzas a todos los padres y cree que juntos podemos hacer una realidad el potencial de cada niño. Te invitamos a utilizar nuestros recursos, ayudarnos a identificar otras nuevas, y háganos saber cómo podemos mejorar nuestra información y herramientas para mejor apoyar a ustedes como padres.


Desde del ano 1897, PTA ha sido instrumental en:

  • Cinturones de seguridad
  • La creación del educacion de Kindergarten
  • Vacunas para polio
  • Cascos de bicicletas
  • Las Leyes de trabajo infantil
  • Seguridad del autobús escolar
  • El agua fluorada
  • Servicios de Salud Pública
  • La promulgación de un sistema de justicia de menores
  • Promoción de los peligros de fumar
  • Apoyo a la Familia y Ley de Licencia Médica
  • Desarrollo de un sistema y clasificación de TV basado en contenido
  • Una mejor sistema de financiación de las Escuelas Públicas
  • La creación de programas de almuerzos calientes en las escuelas públicas
  • Estandarizando las exámenes de salud y la Programa de Inmunización

¿Qué quieres para sus hijos? ¿Cómo vas a trabajar para mejorar la educación de su hijo? Sea cual sea su necesidad o interés, PTA está aquí para ayudarles.

Consejos para los padres: Temporada de regreso a la escuela

Aprende más




California’s education system is changing fast. You want to help. Learn how it all fits together with Ed100!

California State PTA and teamed up to help parents learn more about education so you can help create better schools.

Explore the education system in easy-to-understand language. No jargon. No partisan slant. Written by education experts who know Sacramento and local schools.

Ed100 is a free online resource that prepares you to make a difference in your school or school district. It helps you learn what you need to know to be informed, credible and ready for action.


Every California child deserves a great education. With Ed100, you can be part of the solution.


Ed100 Parent Leader Guide

The Parent Leader Guide provides “ready-to-go” plans for parent meetings. We want to help you hold meetings that matter. It’s all here: Lessons, discussion prompts, handouts and suggestions for taking action.



Arts Education

Unfortunately, fewer than half of all students in California get any kinds of arts education, despite it being mandated in our state education code. California falls well below the national average in terms of numbers of students receiving any kind of arts instruction. This puts our students at a disadvantage both academically and professionally, and they deserve better.

There are things you can do to support arts education, and help put California back on top!


Here are 15 ways to improve arts education in California, grouped by the level of commitment each requires:




  1. Find ways to #CreateAtHome with Create CA‘s resources
  2. Subscribe to Creative Connection, PTA’s arts newsletter
  3. Record a 30-second video (below)
  4. Download the Parents’ Guide to the Visual and Performing Arts
  5. Join California State PTA!


  1. When you resume in-person PTA meetings, set aside time to talk about arts education
  2. When the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, talk to your principal about adding a new art class at your child’s school
  3. Attend a virtual event or exhibit at a local theater, arts center, or museum
  4. Check out your local community’s arts education data
  5. Encourage a student you know to create an art project at home, and submit it to the next Reflections art program competition
  1. When the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, attend an LCAP meeting and ask your district to set aside funding for the arts
  2. Write a letter of support to your local school board
  3. Host a virtual “coffee and arts education” evening in your community
  4. Ask your school district to adopt the Declaration of Student Rights
  5. Encourage your school district to become an Arts Equity District


Research shows that learning arts subjects alongside math, history, science and English has an exponential effect on student success. For example, students who have an arts education achieve more A grades (in all subjects), have better attendance, are more likely to graduate from high school, and have better critical thinking, collaboration and social-emotional skills than those who don’t. This is especially true for English language learners and students from low-income backgrounds.

The good news continues even after high school. Kids with an arts education are more likely to graduate from college, and are more likely to pursue a professional career. Creative arts learning also boosts chances for employment once kids become adults and move into the working world: 72% of business leaders – across all industries – say that creativity is the #1 skill they are seeking, and one out of every 10 jobs in California is in a creative industry.


Be sure to watch this video from the California Alliance for Arts Education on how arts education is being implemented in Chula Vista – and making a difference in the lives of children.


“STEM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education. Add Art and you have “STEAM.”

Is it STEM or STEAM? The opinions on that aren’t unanimous, but most people agree about the end goal, a school curriculum that fosters innovation, develops twenty-first century skills, and teaches young people to think both logically and creatively.

Are you a local PTA leader? Download our ready-made STEAM Experience Toolkit which includes webinar instructions, links to volunteer STEAM videos, PDF instructions of activities, and other resources that will assist you in hosting your own STEAM experience (Virtually or IRL).


As the 21st century continues, it is clear that young people with competency in the STEAM disciplines are more likely to prosper both in their lives and in their careers.

Smart phones, computer-equipped cars, and self-regulating appliances are just a few reminders of how pervasive technology is in our lives. We also know more technology-driven change will occur during the lifetime of our children.

Building the capacity of young people in science, technology, engineering, and math — and doing so within the humanistic frame that the arts help provide — is essential. Young people will need a high level of STEAM literacy to make decisions about their daily lives and to fulfill their role as informed citizens.

Today’s young people are already finding that more and more jobs require proficiency in STEAM disciplines. Our schools need to make sure they’re prepared.

California State PTA took particular interest in STEM/STEAM education with the 2011 passage of the resolution “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education” resolution and PTA has advocated for bills and policies related to STEM education many times since.

Families Are an Important Part of the STEAM Equation

Research from National PTA emphasizes the essential role of family engagement in increasing students’ access to opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math — especially among girls and under-represented youth.

PTAs can join with their schools and community partners to connect local STEAM experts with kids, families and classrooms.

Throughout California there are regional efforts to strengthen STEAM learning for everyone.

Click the links below for easy activity ideas that will help engage families in STEAM, as featured at past PTA Conventions.

Make it count!

Today, the fastest growing job sectors are related to science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) and 60% of college majors require a math background.

In our technology-rich world, acquiring strong STEAM skills matters more than ever for college and career readiness.

In elementary school, students start to develop confidence in their ability to do the basics of math and science. They also begin to learn more about visual and performing art techniques and how technology and engineering work.

As studies show, with steady encouragement, learning and practice, parents can help children excel in these subjects from preschool to college.

Five Tips for Parents

  • Make It Real – Connect math and science to the real world in your everyday activities as a family. When you go to a store, bank or restaurant, talk about how math is used on bills, deposit slips, menus or for tipping. At the park or beach, observe wildlife and plants, let your child draw what he or she sees and go online at home to discover even more.
  • Play Games – Encourage your child to play with puzzles and games that involve decision-making or strategy to build reasoning skills. Card games like “Go Fish” teach children to count, sort and use strategy. Games like Scrabble involve spelling and math. Playing games in the car that estimate distance or listening to music, audio books and podcasts help grow STEAM skills.
  • Feed Curiosity – Borrow science, technology, art and math books and materials from the library and explore these topics online. Visit science museums, zoos, aquariums, theaters and state parks to discover what excites and interests your child. Talk with teachers about your child’s studies to find out ways to reinforce STEAM skills at home.
  • Encourage Discovery – Teach children how to find information and encourage them to solve science and math problems on their own. As a child tries to solve a problem, ask helpful questions and let him/her take time to find out how to do it. Learning how to find answers helps to develop critical thinking.
  • Expand Horizons – While young children may want to be doctors or firefighters, widen their awareness of other interesting careers. Pilots, mechanics, software engineers, forest rangers, video-game developers and biologists, for instance, are all jobs requiring STEAM skills. Go online together to explore the range of career options available with a foundation in STEAM.

Making STEAM learning an everyday part of family life promotes student achievement.

Encourage your PTA or school to host activities such as career days, science fairs, math competitions, arts festivals and robotics clubs. That way, students will learn more about STEAM and how their interests can connect with career goals in these fields.

Check out fun, hands-on STEAM activities at


Common Core

We don’t know what the jobs of tomorrow will be, but we do know our future depends on a strong workforce — and today’s schools must prepare our kids to be part of it.


California is updating the way we prepare students for the future. With the implementation of new standards for all students, called Common Core State Standards, learning in the classroom will look different for your child.



The new standards mean:

  • Deeper, richer, more relevant instruction for your child
  • Clearly defined learning goals for each grade level that build from year to year
  • A focus on key knowledge and skills, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

The new standards matter because:

  • They’re part of an overall update to the way our schools ensure all students achieve – including more professional development opportunities for teachers, updated instructional materials and technology, and more useful assessments
  • They provide all students with hands-on experiences, and opportunities to experiment and try new approaches
  • They help prepare your child, and every child, to navigate a fast-paced, super-connected changing world.

What’s Cooking With the Common Core in California? from FrameWorks Institute on Vimeo.


Find out what your child will be learning, at each grade level, in Mathematics and English Language Arts with the new Common Core State Standards. You’ll also learn more about how you can support your child’s learning and other helpful information.



By grade-level:

Additional math resources from the California Department of Education:


Our children’s school assessments are changing. Gone are the multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests, now replaced with high-tech opportunities for our kids to show what they really know through writing, critical thinking and problem-solving — real skills needed for real-world success.

Each spring the state requires students in grades 3-8 and in grade 11 to participate in statewide assessments in English language arts and mathematics. The results are used for a variety of purposes both by schools and by the state.

It’s important to remember that the new assessments are only one part of our upgraded education system, which includes new learning standards and more decision-making at the local level. Standardized tests are just one way of measuring student progress, along with class assignments and report cards.

For more information, view our webpage on student assessments.


For more information about the new state standards and what they mean for students, teachers and schools, visit National PTA. You can also view a detailed presentation from the California Department of Education.


  • California Department of Education — Find detailed information about the new state standards including implementation and resources for teachers, administrators, the higher education community and parents.
  • K-8 California’s Common Core Standards Parent Handbook — This handbook, created by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) in consultation with the California State PTA, gives parents an introduction to California’s CCSS and a summary of what students are expected to learn as they advance from kindergarten through grade eight.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Information — Smarter Balanced tests will assess the full range of Common Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics for students in grades 3-8 and 11. It will measure current student achievement and growth over time, showing progress toward college and career readiness, and allowing for growth models.