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CAASPP: Information for Staff

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)Top of Page

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CAASPP is California's new system of end-of-year state assessments comprised of the Smarter Balanced computerized assessment, the science pilot assessments, and the alternate assessment.


Accessibility Supports for CAASPP Assessments

The California Department of Education recognizes the validity of assessment results depend on each and every student having the appropriate accessibility support, based on the constructs being measured by a particular assessments.

Who can access the supports/tools?
Some tools are available to all students, these are accessed by student choice. Other tools and supports are only available to students with a formal plan (Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan).
Supports are offered as embedded and non-embedded:
Embedded: supports that are digitally delivered or settings available on the technology platform.
Non-embedded: supports that are not part of the technology platform, but are offered locally by the school, at the time of testing.

Accessibility Support Visual Guides

These subject-specific guides provide a listing of the supports available to students taking the ELA, math and/or science pilot. For restrictions on the tools/supports, refer to the Matrix One Guide.

Click on the links below to access the ELA or math guide.

CAASPP Key MessagesTop of Page

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP): An indicator of progress toward career and college readiness

California’s new academic standards – the things we want students to know and be able to do – are designed so students graduate ready for college and a career. One way we measure their progress is through computer-based assessments, which students in grades 3-8 and 11 take each spring. These tests were created specifically to gauge each student’s performance in mathematics and English language arts/literacy as they develop – grade by grade – the skills called for by the standards, including the ability to write clearly, think critically and solve problems. Teachers, business leaders and public colleges and universities all support these long-term learning goals, because they reflect what students need to be prepared for the career and college experiences that await them.

Three million students, one common yardstick

Every school is different, and each takes its own approach to teaching, learning and assessing student progress. Results of any test should be considered along with other measures of learning, and in consultation with a student’s teachers. Because CAASPP tests are given statewide, they provide an opportunity to measure the skills of all students against the same academic standards in the same way, and the results provide information schools can use to improve teaching and learning. Given on-line, the tests are computer-adaptive, allowing more precise measurement of individual skills. Parents receive a written report of their child’s scores, and can compare progress from one year to the next.

California's testing system makes improving instruction a priority

No single assessment can provide teachers with all the feedback they need to tailor instruction to meet the needs of their students. California also provides optional interim tests and a digital library of resources for educators to use and monitor student progress throughout the year. And because the questions students answer during these tests require them to demonstrate the abilities they will need to do well in college and the workplace, CAASPP provides schools with models of high-quality instruction. California State Universities and many community colleges consider high marks on these tests among 11th-graders a reliable sign of readiness for college-level work.   

Shifting the focus to students and classrooms requires patience and persistence

California is leading the way in moving from a top-down approach to testing to a system focused on gathering insights about student progress and helping schools put them to use improving teaching and learning. These major changes take time to carry out, and it is important to remember that schools and teachers are still adjusting to new standards and assessments. Our education system has a long way to go, but we are making real progress in creating a system that serves the long-term needs of our students and our state.

Estimated Testing TimesTop of Page

Students in grades three through eight and grade eleven will receive full-length summative tests for both English language arts/literacy and mathematics, with approximately seven to eight hours of total testing time for each student.

Visit the California Department of Education (CDE) California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System Web page for additional information about the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

The table below contains rough estimates of the time it will take most students to complete the Smarter Balanced assessments. This information is for scheduling purposes only, as the assessments are not timed.

Click the photo to view a larger version.
smarter balanced assessment time

* Classroom Activities are designed to fit into a thirty-minute window; however, the time within the window will vary due to the complexity of the topic and individual student needs.

Teacher Guides: Smarter Balanced AssessmentsTop of Page

These guides provide grade band specific information about the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The guides are organized by grade span to highlight the changes in expectations as students move through the grade levels. They explain how student skills and knowledge are assessed and reported through collecting and scoring evidence. They also provide examples of the range and types of items that appear on the assessments. The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System.
Please visit the CDE Web page for CAASPP Teacher Guides.

California Science Test (CAST) Field TestTop of Page

The CAST is an online test based on the California Next Generation Science Standards. It is administered in grades 5 and 8 and once to each student while that student is in high school. For the 2017-18 field test, all grade twelve students will take the CAST.  Students will not receive scores for the field test, however, student participation data will be collected and reported for accountability ("testing the test"). 


Finding/Navigating Resources within the Digital LibraryTop of Page

SBAC PowerPoint Presentations:

  • Navigating Resources in the Digital Library

    • What information will I find in the About This Resource tab?

    • How do I write a review for a resource and rate it?

    • How do I share a resource?

    • How do I locate similar resources in the Digital Library?

    • How do I flag an issue with a resource in the Digital Library?


Additional Smarter Balanced InformationTop of Page

Smarter Balanced Tests require more complex thinking

  • Evidence: Students will not be able to simply skim-read or answer writing prompts based on personal opinion. The assessments demand close reading and evidence-based responses.

  • Rigor: Students will not be able to rely as much on process of elimination to find an answer.  The assessment includes some multiple choice with more than one answer as well as other demands for higher-level thinking.

  • Authenticity: It won't be enough to memorize formulas and apply them to a set of numbers out of context. Smarter Balanced Assessments ask students to apply math concepts to real life situations, often requiring multiple steps.

  • Writing: Writing is now assessed at all tested grade levels, with extended writing in English language arts. Even the math assessment includes some short answer writing.

Smarter Balanced is computer-based

  • Interactive: More than just multiple-choice. Students may be asked to drag and drop answers, complete a chart or highlight evidence.

  • Adaptive: Assessments adjust to ability; questions become more or less challenging for each student depending on the answers.

  • Supportive: The online platform offers supports for all students, such as built-in calculators, highlighters, etc. More specific accommodations for students with special needs are available. (see below).


Schools are expected to receive scores within four weeks of assessment completion.  The Smarter Balanced score sheets allow families to chart student's grade level growth over the years. Score numbers will range from about 2000-3000, with achievement levels from 1-4. Teachers and community members helped set these levels using data from 2014 field tests involving more than 3 million students.

Smarter Balanced is different enough that scores cannot be accurately compared to those of previous state tests, but families may be tempted to compare them anyway, especially if a student's level changes. Remember that scoring shifts are normal whenever more rigorous academic assessments are introduced; teachers and students need time to adjust.  

Please know that these scores will be viewed as one assessment among many that will help our teachers measure student learning and growth. Teachers and school officials will continue to recalibrate expectations. Everyone is working together to ensure student scores are viewed fairly as we continue to grow into this new academic expectation.

Accessibility & Accommodations

There are three levels of accommodations available to students:

  • Universal Tools such as calculators, dictionaries, and breaks are available for all students.

  • Designated Supports such as translations of directions/glossaries and scribes are available when indicated by a teacher or other adult.

  • Accommodations such as ASL, Braille, and read alouds are available only for students with a 504 or an IEP.

For video tutorials please visit the CAASPP Embedded Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations Video Tutorials Web page.

Please visit the CAASPP FAQs Web page for additional information.

Parent Guides

to the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

Guía de los Padres

para las Evaluaciones Sumativas Smarter Balanced

Grades 3-5

Grados 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grados 6-8

Grade 11

Grado 11

Practice and training tests.

Parent Guides

to the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

Guía de los Padres

para las Evaluaciones Sumativas Smarter Balanced

Grades 3-5

Grados 3-5

Grades 6-8

Grados 6-8

Grade 11

Grado 11

Practice and training tests.