Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

CAAs Performance Level Descriptors

The performance level descriptors that convey the degree of student achievement in a given achievement level.

The California Alternate Assessment (CAA) general (policy) performance level descriptors (PLDs), which were developed on the basis of the work of the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC), are empirically based descriptions of what students at each performance level do know and what they are able to do. A team of local educational agency educators, who were familiar with Core Content Connectors (CCCs) and the target student population, reviewed policy descriptions developed by the NCSC and the general PLDs for California’s target student population. The educators used the CAA blueprints, the CCCs that are linked to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the NCSC PLDs as resources in the process.

General Performance Level Descriptors are short policy descriptors that convey the degree of student achievement in a given achievement level. Taken together with grade- and content-specific PLDs and threshold scores, they convey to educators, parents, student, and the public the meaning of assessment results.

In developing the general PLDs, the California Department of Education determined that the descriptions should include three levels of performance. The table below provides a description of the three general PLDs with level 3 reflecting the highest level of performance.

Level General Performance Level Descriptors
3
Students at this level demonstrate understanding of core subject matter in the content area. They are actively working with adapted grade-level content that focuses on the essential knowledge and skills and may need occasional prompts and assistance to complete tasks and activities.
2
Students at this level demonstrate foundational understanding of core subject matter in the content area when provided with frequent prompts and supports. They are actively working with adapted grade-level content that focuses on the essential knowledge and skills and may frequently need supports to complete tasks and activities.
1
Students at this level demonstrate limited understanding of adapted grade level content that focuses on much of the basic knowledge and skills, even with extensive supports.

The Grade- and Content-specific Performance Level Descriptors are descriptors of what students at each achievement level know and can do, by grade and content area. They reflect the level of expectation represented in the general PLDs as well as the specific content reflected in the CCSS and the CCCs, including the essential understandings. California educators assembled to develop the grade- and content-specific PLDs, using the general PLDs, which provided the number of reporting levels and the general definition of each reporting level. The importance of the grade- and content-specific PLDs is that they define the knowledge or skill expectations at each performance level on a functional basis, define the standards as they apply to cut scores, and give standardized meaning to scores or score ranges.

Questions:   California Alternate Assessment | CalAlt@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 28, 2016
Recently Posted in Testing

  • CAASPP Update, Issue 200 (added 07-Apr-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, April 5, 2017.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 199 (added 30-Mar-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, March 29, 2017.
  • Card Sort Blank Activity (added 27-Mar-2017)
    This is the Card Sort Blank Activity as provided at the 2017 CAASPP Institute Training.
  • Card Sort Structure Activity (added 27-Mar-2017)
    This is the Card Sort Structure activity as provided at the 2017 CAASPP Institute Training.
  • Fostering a Balanced System Tool (DOC) (added 27-Mar-2017)
    This is the Fostering a Balanced System Tool as provided in the 2017 CAASPP Institute Training.