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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 101

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, July 31, 2020.

Focusing on the CAASPP System and English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)—and including, when timely, updates on California’s other statewide assessments.

FAQs: English Learner Services During COVID-19

To support local educational agency (LEA) staff during this challenging time, the English Learner Support Division recently created the English Learner Services During COVID-19 FAQs web page, located on the California Department of Education (CDE) website. This web page provides answers to frequently asked questions about entrance requirements, the providing of services to English learners, reclassification, and other important topics.

Questions about English learner services can be emailed to the English Learner Support Division at

Coming in September: Training for New CAASPP Coordinators

Coming in September are summer CAASPP sessions across the state for all LEA CAASPP coordinators who are new to their role or want a refresher! Hosted by county offices of education, these training sessions will cover assessment basics, the systems used by coordinators and test administrators, Tools for Teachers and the Interim Assessments, and resources to support new coordinators in their role.

This training goes hand in hand with the New Coordinator Training webinars held throughout the year and, while optional, it is highly recommended. To register, go to the CAASPP 2020–2021 Training Opportunities web page External link opens in new window or tab., select “September 2020: New CAASPP Coordinator Training,” and find a nearby location to network with other new coordinators in your region.

New: Back to School Assessment Playbook

The Smarter Balanced Consortium has just released the Back to School Assessment Playbook External link opens in new window or tab., which describes how educators can use Smarter Balanced resources such as Tools for Teachers External link opens in new window or tab. and Interim Assessment Blocks in support of high-quality instruction in the formative assessment process.

With distance learning continuing in the 2020–21 school year, LEAs can refer to the Playbook as they make decisions about how they will use assessments and which resources to use for identifying learning gaps and accelerating learning. Smarter Balanced members collaborated to create this resource, which includes:

  • Guidance on choosing and using effective instructional resources and strategies
  • Recommendations on teaching and measuring the highest-priority content in each subject
  • Information on how to integrate interim assessments within the formative assessment process in the classroom

This resource is meant to guide educators during this challenging time and help them better understand and meet their students’ needs. Using the recommendations offered in the Playbook, educators can be better prepared to meet this year’s challenges and offer high-quality instruction to their students. The Playbook can be found on the CDE Interim Assessments information web page and CDE Tools for Teachers information web page.

2020–21 CAA for Science Test Examiner Tutorial Now Available!

Now is the time to use the 2020–21 California Alternate Assessment (CAA) Test Examiner Tutorial External link opens in new window or tab. to prepare for the first operational California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science, which will open on September 8, 2020. The tutorial contains sessions for the CAA general administration module and the CAA for Science module. Test examiners must complete both sessions before administering the CAA for Science, which consists of four embedded performance tasks that are to be administered in any order throughout the school year. Test examiners should make sure to be ready in advance to administer this assessment.

The science content area of the 2020–21 CAA Test Examiner Tutorial includes important information test examiners need for administering the CAA for Science, including:

  • Basics of the test
  • Planning and preparing for administering the four embedded performance tasks throughout the testing year
  • How to administer an embedded performance task
  • Guidance on individualization
  • Determining student engagement
  • Updates to the test examiner survey
  • Best practices and recommendations based on feedback from previous administrations

The tutorial also introduces additional resources for test examiners, such as the CAASPP CAA for Science Version Assignments for 2020–21 Test Administration web page External link opens in new window or tab., the Administration Planning Guides External link opens in new window or tab., and the Directions for Administration, which are available in the Test Operations Management System External link opens in new window or tab. (secure login required).

To receive the CAA test examiner certificate of completion for the CAA for Science, test examiners must view the entire presentation and answer all in-module questions correctly. After those criteria are met, test examiners will have the option to receive their certificate of completion by email or by downloading the certificate. Audio captioning is available.

Updates: National and International Assessments

The National Center for Education Statistics has canceled some of the national and international assessments—the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)—planned for the 2020–21 school year and will announce final plans for the 2020–21 NAEP by the end of August 2020. Notifications will be sent to affected schools and districts in early September 2020. Updates are as follows:

  • NAEP still under consideration

    • Grades four and eight reading and mathematics—for state, national, and Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results. California’s TUDAs include Fresno Unified School District (USD), Los Angeles USD, and San Diego USD.

  • NAEP rescheduled (canceled for 2020–21)

    • Grade eight U.S. history and civics—for national results only
    • Age seventeen long-term trend assessments (suspended in March 2020) for mathematics and reading—for national results only

  • PIRLS rescheduled (canceled for 2020–21)

    • Grade four PIRLS—international assessment

Please share this email with any educators in your LEA who would be interested in or benefit from this information. To join the email list, send a blank email message to Are you a new subscriber? Visit the CDE Assessment Spotlight web page to find previous issues.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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