Understanding State Testing and Individual Results for 2015-2016
The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which includes the Smarter Balanced assessments for English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, was administered in the spring of 2016 for the 2015-16 school year.
Overall state and district results will be released in late August/early September. Individual student results were mailed home to families the first week of August. Included with the results will be an interpretation guide (see below) to explain the CAASPP assessments and to help parents understand their child's results. We strongly recommend watching the, Understanding the CAASPP Student Score Report 2015-16 - video that outlines what you need to know about the CAASPP test and corresponding results.
The California Department of Education have provided guides for parents on how to interpret your child’s score, what is tested on the assessment and how the results are used to improve practices around instruction and content.
- CAASPP Student Score Report Guide: ELA and Mathematics, Grade 3
- CAASPP Student Score Report Guide: ELA and Mathematics, Grades 4, 6, and 7
- CAASPP Student Score Report Guide: ELA and Mathematics, and CST or CMA for Science, Grades 5 and 8
How the test is administered
The new assessments allow students to demonstrate analytical writing, critical thinking and problem solving skills along with their knowledge of facts in ELA and mathematics.
Results from the new Smarter Balanced assessments should not be compared to the scores previously received on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program tests given in previous years. The Smarter Balanced assessments involve very different types of test questions and a different approach to scoring.
The majority of the Smarter Balanced assessment is computer adaptive. A Computer Adaptive Test or CAT is based on a very large item bank covering all areas assessed and varying levels of difficulty. There is a recommended blueprint for the CAT that ensures that the structure of the test is similar for every student. The program selects precise questions based on the individual student responses to the previous questions. The blueprint ensures that test questions are administered in a logical way and keeps the student’s experience controlled and appropriate for him or her. There is an algorithm or programming language, which is a step-by-step approach that tells the CAT what to do next based on the student’s answers. Therefore, the test adapts as the student takes the test. There are rules that ensure each student’s test contains grade-appropriate questions providing a balance of question types, reading passage lengths and difficulty.
Understanding the results
The final score is based on pattern scoring. The pattern of responses is tracked and a revised estimate of the student’s performance is calculated. Scores from the CAT portion of the test are based on the difficulty of the items that were right or wrong, not on the total number of correct answers. The test question bank for a particular grade level is designed to include an enhanced pool of test questions that are more or less difficult, but still match the test blueprint for that grade.
- Videos: Understanding the CAASPP Student Score Report (Produced by the California Department of Education)
- Entendiendo el Reporte de Puntuación del Estudiante del 2015–16
Because the program knows which questions are harder and which are easier, several students may have answered a similar number of questions correctly, but the student who has answered the more challenging questions correctly will achieve a higher score.
The other portion of the Smarter Balanced assessment is the Performance Task, also known as the PT. Performance tasks measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards—a key component of college and career readiness. Performance tasks will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items.
After the responses requiring hand scoring are scored, they are merged with items that are machine scored. The number of items per CAT and PT by grade span have been defined by the test blueprint.
Based on the test blueprint, the CAT section is emphasized because there are more CAT items/points than PT items/points. The test blueprint includes claims, which are broad, evidence-based statements about what students know and can do as demonstrated by their performance on the subsets of the assessments. Claims are like reporting clusters. The claims with more items contribute more to the overall score. For example, in mathematics, Concepts and Procedures have more items than the other claims, and therefore, contribute more to the overall score for mathematics.
Since scores are based on pattern scoring, groups of items that are more difficult will have a larger contribution on the final score.
After estimating the student’s overall ability, it is mapped onto the reporting scale. Scores are on a vertical scale. This enables the district to measure student growth over time across grade levels. For each grade level and content area, there is a separate scale score range.
The scale score is a four-digit number and there is a minimum and maximum for each grade level and for each subject.
Students will receive one of four score levels.
- Exceeded the Standard
- Met the Standard
- Nearly Met the Standard
- Has Not Met the Standard
Students scoring in the two top levels are on the path to be college and career ready at high school graduation. Students scoring below the “Met the Standard” level will need further development to get on this path.
Achievement levels for claims are very similar to sub-scores. They provide supplemental information regarding a student’s strengths and weaknesses. There are only three achievement levels for claims since there are fewer items within each claim. A student must complete all items within a claim to receive an estimate of his or performance (or achievement) on a claim. The three levels, or claims, are Below, Near or Above.
The Claims for English Language Arts are:
- Speaking & Listening
The Claims for Mathematics are:
- Concepts & Procedures
- Problem Solving
- Communicating Reasoning
- Modeling & Data Analysis
Test Scores: Just One Measure of Success
Standardized assessments provide only one measure of a child’s academic performance. Classroom projects, writing assignments, math exercises, and our own tests given throughout the year all contribute important information for building a clear picture of how each student is progressing. We encourage you to talk with your child’s teacher throughout the year to learn more about your child’s progress. Here are a few things to remember when assessing your child's score.
If you have questions regarding the information in the CAASPP report or the testing program in general, please contact your child’s teacher or principal. Additional resources are included below.
Smarter Balanced Assessments Overview for Parents & Students (Smarter Balanced website)
CDE Testing and Accountability: Parent and student resources (California Department of Education)
Understanding the CAASPP Student Score Reports (California Department of Education)
Test Score Guide (California Department of Education)