The California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance (CAASPP) and
    Smarter Balanced Assessments Consortium (SBAC)

    What is CAASPP?

    The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program as of July 1, 2013. California’s new assessment system is part of a comprehensive plan to promote high-quality teaching and learning and improve student outcomes. Assessments play an important role in promoting and modeling high-quality instruction. The CAASPP encompasses the Smarter Balanced Assessments and the California Alternate Assessments (CAA). In grades 5, 8 and 10 students are also tested in science with the California Standards Test (CST).

    What are the Smarter Balanced Assessments?

    The Smarter Balanced Assessments are new computer-based tests that measure student knowledge of California’s English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics standards. These new assessments will take place in spring 2015. Only students in 3rd-11th grade will be tested.

    The Smarter Balanced Assessments reflect the higher, more rigorous standards in the California Common Core. The Smarter Balanced tests assess both content knowledge, as well as deeper and more critical thinking skills of our students. These annual school assessments are no longer just about memorizing content. These assessments ask our students to think more deeply, and to demonstrate their understanding in assessment items that represent problem solving.

    The Smarter Balanced Assessments include both a Computer Adaptive Test and a Performance Task. Bother tests are done online. The Computer Adaptive Tests adjust based on student responses. The Performance Tasks are additional questions that require students to apply critical thinking to a prompt or problem and explain or justify their approach to the problem or solution in writing. 

    Why are new assessments needed?

    California has adopted more rigorous academic standards that emphasize not only subject knowledge, but also the critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills students need to be successful in college and career. These standards set a higher bar for California students to help ensure that they are prepared to succeed in the future. New standards require new assessments.

    Why is this assessment important?

    Like an annual medical check-up, the tests will provide an annual academic check-up, letting educators and parents read the “vital signs” that indicate whether students are on track for academic success. Such assessments will encourage systemic improvements in teaching and learning that will enhance the rigor of students’ academic lives and ultimately benefit their futures as adults and productive members of society.

    How are Smarter Balanced Assessments an improvement over previous statewide tests?

    The Smarter Balanced Assessments system uses both computer-based and computer-adaptive tests, providing students with a wider range of questions tailored to more accurately identify the knowledge and skills individual students have mastered. Today’s students are very comfortable in this online environment.

    The tests include performance tasks that challenge students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving, and to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems. Writing is required at every grade level. The new computer-based tests include accommodation and supports for English learners and students with special needs. Results are available to teachers, schools and school districts much more quickly than results from previous tests. Assessment results will provide a more meaningful picture of student performance and information for teachers and students to guide learning.

    What will the Smarter Balanced tests measure?

    Smarter Balanced tests provide one measure of student knowledge of the subject matter (ELA/Math), as well as critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills. The tests provide timely and actionable student information so that teachers and schools can adjust and improve teaching to ensure students have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

    When will the Smarter Balanced Assessments take place in the District? What tests will they actually take?

    The assessment window in the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District generally occurs during the month of May. Each school site will share their specific testing dates. Students in 3rd-8th grade will take a Computer Adaptive Test and complete a Performance Task in both ELA and Math. All of the tests are untimed, but these assessments typically take students 60 to 120 minutes to complete and are spread out over a 2-3 week period.

    How will these assessments impact my child? When will we receive the results?

    These assessments are not used as a single determinant of placement or aptitude and are only one of many progress measures teachers use throughout the year. They will be used only to inform teachers about student proficiency and progress towards standards and to guide or adjust instruction. Scores are not used to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade.

    Parents will receive a report of their child’s test results that indicates achievement levels and scores. The results of the Smarter Balanced Assessments will be mailed to parents four to six weeks after the students finish the assessments. The Student Score Report will provide a score and a description of the score indicating progress toward the subject standard – ELA or Math. The report scores will be in the range of 2000-3000. The score will be placed on a continuum from Standard Not Met to Standard Exceeded. Each performance area in ELA and Math will be reported for each student as Below Standard, At or Near Standard, or Above Standard.

    What results can we expect from the Smarter Balanced Tests? Will scores go down?
    Last year’s results established a new baseline for the progress we expect students to make over time. We will be able to compare this year's results to last year's to measure student growth over time.
    Can I take a practice test?
    Practice tests are available at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/practice-test/

    How can I best support my children during the assessments and how can I prepare them?

    The best way to support students during the assessments is to ensure that they eat healthy meals and get plenty of sleep. Lessen any anxiety by simply reassuring your children to do their best but not to worry about wrong or right answers. These tests just help teachers with their jobs of making learning meaningful and fun!

    Resources for Parents

    The California Department of Education (CDE) has developed several resources to help students and parents understand the grade expectations of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments:

    Information and resources about alternate assessments: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/altassessment.asp