Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

CA Science Assessments FAQs

Questions and answers regarding science assessments aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). The CA NGSS were adopted by the California State Board of Education (SBE) in September 2013.

CAASPP System

  1. What is the CAASPP System?

    The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System is comprised of assessments for the California kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) education system. On January 1, 2014, California Education Code (EC) Section 60640 established the CAASPP System which replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. The CAASPP - CalEdFacts Web page provides an overview of the CAASPP System.

Science Tests for the spring 2014-15 Administration

  1. Which science tests will be administered in the spring 2014–15 test administration? At which grade level? How long will these tests be in place?

    For the spring 2014–15 test administration, California will administer the California Standards Test (CST) for Science, California Modified Assessment (CMA) for Science, and California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for Science in grades five, eight, and ten. EC Section 60640 requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to administer these tests until an assessment aligned to the CA NGSS is implemented.

  1. Will the CST, CMA, and CAPA for Science administered in spring 2014–15 test administration be computer-adaptive?

    No, the CST and CMA for Science administered in grades five, eight, and ten are paper-pencil, fixed form, multiple-choice tests. The CAPA for Science administered in grades five, eight, and ten is a paper-based performance assessment.

  2. Who takes the CST for Science?

    All students in grades five, eight, and ten are required to take the CST for Science, unless they have an individualized education program (IEP) that indicates that they should be assessed with the CMA or CAPA.

  3. Who takes the CMA for Science?

    The CMA for Science is administered to eligible students in grades five, eight, and ten. For the CMA, an eligible student is any student in grades five, eight, or ten, who has an IEP that designates the use of the modified assessment in science.  

  4. Who determines the eligibility of a student to take the CMA for Science?

    The eligibility of the student to take the CMA is determined by the IEP team.

  5. Who takes the CAPA for Science?

    The CAPA for Science is administered to eligible students in grades five (levels I & III), eight (levels I & IV), and ten (levels I & V) who have significant cognitive disabilities. For CAPA, an eligible student is a student in grades two through eleven, inclusive, who has an IEP that designates the use of the CAPA for Science.

  6. Are the CST, CMA, and CAPA for Science available to private schools or private homeschooling students?

    No, the assessments under the CAASPP System are administered only to public school students. They are not available to private schools or private homeschooling students.

  7. Why must California continue to administer science tests that are based on the 1998 Science Content Standards when the new CA NGSS have already been adopted by the SBE?

    The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to administer a science test, every year in each grade span; three through five, six through nine, and ten through twelve, inclusive. While California is already in the process of developing new assessments aligned to the CA NGSS, the only statewide tests that are currently available during this transitional phase are the CST, CMA, and CAPA for Science in grades five, eight, and ten.

  8. How can teachers have access to the end-of-course science tests that were previously administered as part of the STAR Program?

    End-of-course (EOC) tests in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, and Integrated Sciences I–IV that were previously administered by the state as part of the STAR Program are available to local educational agencies (LEAs) for purchase at their own expense from ETS. For more information regarding the ordering and administration of the EOC tests, please contact the ETS California Technical Assistance Center (CalTAC) office by phone at 1-800-955-2954 or by e-mail at caltac@ets.org.

California Science Assessment Aligned to the CA NGSS

  1. When will California science assessments aligned to the CA NGSS be available?

    The CDE anticipates administering a pilot test in 2016–17, a field test in 2017–18, and the operational test in 2018–19.

    Please refer to the CAASPP Science Assessments Implementation Timeline for further details.

  2. Will the State also administer the CST, CMA, and CAPA tests during the pilot test phase of the science assessment aligned to the CA NGSS?

    Yes, California will administer the CST, CMA, and CAPA science tests in grades five, eight, and ten in the pilot year (2016–17).

  3. What can LEAs do to prepare for the new science assessments?

    LEAs are encouraged to work with educators (administrators and teachers), parents/guardians, and students to initiate the implementation of the CA NGSS in California schools as recommended by the CDE in the Next Generation Science Standards Systems Implementation Plan for California (Plan) (PDF). The Plan provides an overview of foundational strategies that may be used to develop implementation plans at the local and regional levels by LEAs. Guiding strategy three of the plan provides an overview of the main focus of the statewide assessment system and suggestions and opportunities for LEAs, community stakeholders, and support providers.

ESEA-required Tests Aligned to the CA NGSS

  1. What grade levels might be tested to fulfill the federal ESEA requirements?

    EC Section 60640 requires the state to implement, at least one grade-level science test aligned to the CA NGSS, in each grade span; three through five, six through nine, and ten through twelve, as recommended by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) and approved by the SBE. Recommendations regarding science assessments aligned to the CA NGSS shall include, grade level, type of assessment, and an implementation plan and cost estimates for at least one assessment per grade span as listed above. These recommendations are anticipated to be presented by the SSPI to the SBE in 2015.

Non-ESEA-required Tests Aligned to the CA NGSS

  1. Will the state develop other CA NGSS-aligned science tests besides the ESEA-required tests?

    EC 60640 requires the SSPI to submit to the SBE, no later than March 1, 2016, recommendations on expanding the CAASPP System to include additional (science and other subjects) assessments to augment the ESEA-required tests. In making the recommendations, the SSPI is required to consult with specific groups of California science education stakeholders, including, but not limited to, California science teachers, measurement experts, individuals with expertise in assessing students with disabilities, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners, and parents/guardians. Recommendations shall include details regarding grade levels, content to be tested, and type of assessment. Recommendations shall also consider the use of various item types, consortium-developed assessments, computer-based testing, locally-scored performance tasks, portfolios, matrix sampling (if appropriate), population sampling, and a timeline and cost estimates for test development.

 

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Recently Posted in Testing
  • Final Planning Time (PDF) (added 29-Jul-2016)
    This is the Final Planning Time of the CAASPP Institute training materials.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 162 (added 29-Jul-2016)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, July 27, 2016.
  • Formative Reflection (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is the Formative Reflection and Planning portion of the CAASPP Institute training.
  • Math Assessment Purpose (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    A portion of the Assessment Chapter of the 2013 Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools.
  • Four Attributes of Formative Assessment (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is the Four Attributes of Formative Assessment portion of the CAASPP Institute Training.

  • 2014 ELA/ELD Framework, Chapter 8 (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    Chapter Eight of the 2014 English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELA/ELD) Framework for California Public Schools Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve.
  • Formative Assessment Accessibility (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is the Formative Assessment Accessibility portion of the CAASPP Institute training.
  • Digital Library Part 1 (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is theDigital Library Part 1 portion of the CAASPP Institute training.
  • Digital Library Part 2 (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is the Digital Library Part 2 portion of the CAASPP Insitute training.
  • Digital Library Part 3 (PDF) (added 26-Jul-2016)
    This is the Digital Library Part 3 portion of the CAASPP Institute training.