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California Alternate Assessments


The California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics are given in grades three through eight and grade eleven. The CAAs, a part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress system, have replaced the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for ELA and CAPA for mathematics, which were eliminated in 2015. Only eligible students may participate in the administration of the CAAs. The CAPA for science in grades five, eight, and ten will continue to be administered until a replacement assessment is available.

CAAs items are aligned with alternate achievement standards, which are linked with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The goals of the CAAs are to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for postsecondary options.

The information and links to resources that follow are provided for administrators, coordinators, educators, parents, guardians, students, and others about CAAs for ELA and mathematics and CAPA for science.

Eligible Students

Individualized education program (IEP) teams “shall determine when a child with a significant cognitive disability shall participate in an alternate assessment aligned with the alternate academic achievement standards.” (Title 1, Part A, Subpart 1, Sec. 1111(b)(2)(D)(ii)(I)—Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015)

Currently, this means participation in the CAAs for ELA and mathematics and CAPA for science.

Administration of the CAAs

CAA test items are aligned with the Core Content Connectors (CCCs) and linked to (or derived from) the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Each grade level test is designed with three tiers of complexity. The 2015–16 test consists of up to 27 items in each content area. For the 2015–16 school year, the test window is April 11, 2016, through June 17, 2016. Student Score Reports for the 2015–16 administration will be released in the fall.

The CAAs use computer-based technology for registration and administration and are designed to be stage adaptive, adjusting to the student’s performance at selected points within the administration. The test itself is delivered in a one-to-one setting by the student’s teacher. Teachers are encouraged to “test how you teach,” using the instructional techniques that are most successful with the individual student to the extent that those strategies do not compromise the test. Teachers and students have an opportunity to use the CAA training tests to practice the various embedded and non-embedded resources to establish the best possible “setting” for the student’s testing experience.

California Alternate Performance Assessment

The CAPA is the alternate assessment for science. This test is designed for students in grades five, eight, and ten who have an IEP and who have a significant cognitive disability. The assessment is administered within the local educational agency’s (LEA’s) testing window. Students are required to participate in the CAPA science assessment until a successor alternate assessment aligned with the California Next Generation Science Standards is developed and administered.

For more information, visit the California Science Assessments Web page.

Core Content Connectors

The CCCs, developed by the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) are content targets linked to the CCSS. The CCCs are less complex than the CCSS, focusing on the main academic content in each subject and grade. The CCCs illustrate the necessary knowledge and skills needed to reach the learning targets within the CCSS and the knowledge and skills needed in each grade. The CCCs identify priorities in each content area to guide the instruction for students in this population and for the alternate assessment.

CAA Blueprints

The CAA blueprints address the basic core content domains, the CCSS, the CCCs, and the essential understanding for each standard.

Optional Resources (New!)

For Coordinators, Administrators, and Teachers
For Parents/Guardians and Students

Contact Information

For information on the CAA for ELA, CAA for Mathematics, and the CAPA for Science, please contact:

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office
Phone: 916-445-8765
Fax: 916-319-0969
E-mail: caaspp@cde.ca.gov

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
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