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State Tools Introduction

This Web page provides an overall insight to the function of the four state assessment tools, the assumptions, and next steps.

Purpose of Tools

Achievement and program data are essential if school and local educational agency (LEA) plans are to be meaningful and lead to improved student achievement. Student achievement data should include locally collected, formative data on student achievement, as well as summative data. For district and school level information, see data on the California Department of Education (CDE) Accountability Progress Reporting Web page.

While systematic program evaluation data on individual instructional programs are frequently not available, the state has developed four state tools, which together present a large picture of a school’s or LEA’s instructional program and the degree of coherence and effectiveness of this program.

The Four State Program Self-Assessment Tools

The four state tools are designed to function as a group, providing insight on school and district structures and supports for English learners (ELs) and students with disabilities (SWDs). Together, they assess the coherence of school-level instructional programs, the capacity of the district to build and support this coherence, and the support services it provides to ELs and SWDs beyond the basic instructional program.

Academic Program Survey

The Academic Program Survey (APS) is the foundational document of this set of tools and should be administered in any under performing school to help identify resources and structures needed for instructional improvement. For LEAs failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) at the aggregate (or district) level, the APS is recommended for all schools in the district. It is organized around nine essential program components (EPCs) found to be associated with improved student achievement in underperforming schools (HTA Associates, 2008).

District Assistance Survey

The District Assistance Survey (DAS) is designed to guide LEAs and their technical assistance providers in assessing LEA capacity to support a coherent instructional program at all schools and for all students. It is organized around the seven areas of district need, codified in the California Education Code (EC), Section 52059(e)(1). Prior to completing the DAS, it is essential for the LEA to carefully examine and discuss all AYP data.

English Learner Subgroup Self Assessment

The English Learner Subgroup Self Assessment (ELSSA) is a district-level assessment tool that focuses exclusively on the needs of ELs. While EL needs are addressed in both the APS and the DAS, the ELSSA assists the LEA in identifying the root causes for academic underachievement among ELs and sets direction for improving services for these students.

Inventory of Services and Supports

The Inventory of Services and Supports (ISS) for Students with Disabilities is a needs assessment tool and designed to help a district assess its programs and services for SWDs. While the needs of SWDs are explicitly included in the APS and DAS, the ISS provides a more targeted and in-depth analysis of program elements that can guide actions for increased student achievement results for students with disabilities.

Underlying Assumptions in All Four Tools

Embedded in all four tools are several basic assumptions about school-level implementation of the EPCs and district-level support for classroom instruction and school operations.

Assumptions about School-Level Effectiveness

Assumptions about District-Level Effectiveness

At the district level, it is critical that every district has:

Taken together, these programmatic and systemic features will go a long way to help all students, particularly high priority students, to achieve at higher levels and to help schools and district build greater systemic capacity over time.

Tool Use

Any of the four assessment tools could be used in isolation and/or by individuals working alone. However, the intention is that they be used collectively and with an inclusive group of stakeholders in order to provide a more complete picture of district-wide efficacy to ensure that school and district plans reflect a common understanding of student achievement data and tool results. 

With the exception of the ELSSA, which is primarily a diagnostic tool based on the cycle of inquiry approach, each tool provides statements of full implementation to assist an LEA or technical assistance provider to gauge implementation of a particular standard and consider the “next steps” to strengthen implementation.  

In the APS, there are four distinct levels of implementation for each standard: full, substantial, partial, and minimum. Full implementation represents 100 percent of the population measured in that standard (e.g., students, teachers, principals); substantial implementation represents at least 75 percent; partial implementation represents at last 50 percent; and minimal implementation represents anything less than 50 percent.

The DAS assesses broad, but critical, district structures and support systems that play out across schools and district operations. As such, it does not lend itself to discrete measurements of implementation. Instead, the DAS and the data derived from it are intended to be used as a catalyst for conversation about the current overall system capacity to support the full implementation of the California standards-based adopted curriculum and the necessary district-level activities to build this capacity. For this reason, users are asked to gauge district implementation of a standard across three broad categories: full, partial (defined as ‘in progress’), and minimal. The intent is that district will engage in substantive and open conversations about the DAIT standards, the implementation statements, and their systems to support these standards. At the same time, the standards and implementation statements may serve as a blueprint to guide districts in developing the district-level policies, structures, and supports to improve their capacity.

The ISS is intended to foster dialogue about services and supports for SWDs. It assists the district and district leadership team in assessing its structures and support to SWDs in the general education classroom and in any support services identified in their IEPs. Ideally, the ISS should be administered subsequent to the administration of the APS and DAS and to the examination of the data emerging from these two tools. Like the other tools, the ISS is a guidance document only.

Questions:   District Innovation & Improvement Office | 916-319-0836
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