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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 153

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, August 27, 2021.

Focusing on the CAASPP System and English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)—and including, when timely, updates on California’s other statewide assessments. For questions related to test administration, coordination, and trainings, visit the CAASPP website External link opens in new window or tab. and the ELPAC website External link opens in new window or tab..

Initial ELPAC Guidance for LEAs Impacted by Fires

A number of schools have been closed due to the ongoing fires ravaging communities throughout California. While local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to notify parents and guardians of testing, administer the Initial ELPAC to eligible students, and notify parents and guardians of the results within 30 days of enrollment, the California Department of Education (CDE) English Language Proficiency and Spanish Assessments Office offers the following guidance for those affected by the fires:

  • Impacted LEAs requiring evacuation should contact the CDE at when they are able to do so and provide the CDE with the date of their evacuation.
  • The 30-day requirement will stop at that point and will be reinitiated when the LEAs are able to reopen or reenroll their students in full-time instruction.
  • If students are enrolled in a new LEA, that LEA will be responsible for administering the Initial ELPAC.

Both the CDE and assessment contractor ETS place the safety of students, their families, and school staff above all else and stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary to overcome these challenges. We thank you for your continued efforts to administer the Initial ELPAC.

New Alternate ELPAC Starting Smarter Website!

The new Alternate ELPAC Starting Smarter website External link opens in new window or tab., designed specifically for parents and guardians, has launched! This website provides a variety of Alternate ELPAC resources, including a sample Summative Alternate ELPAC Student Score Report, sample test questions, and much more. We encourage LEAs to share this exciting website with parents and guardians at upcoming meetings!

Initial ELPAC Question of the Week

Q: Is there an extension of the 30-day requirement to administer the Initial ELPAC for students who are on quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19?

A: There is no extension for the administration of the Initial ELPAC in 2021–22. If a student is quarantined due to COVID-19, the LEA may administer the Initial ELPAC to the student remotely if testing in person is not an option. If the LEA is unable to complete the student’s testing by either means, the reasons the Initial ELPAC could not be administered should be documented in the student's cumulative folder or student information system (e.g., Aries, PowerSchool, Infinite Campus). At this time, we ask LEAs to do their best to meet the 30-day requirement.

In addition, an LEA will need to provide English learner programs and services to students whose English language acquisition status is “To Be Determined,” or TBD, once the LEA reaches the end of the 30 days until the Initial ELPAC is administered and the official results are produced.

Webinar Series: Tools for Teachers Shared Practices!

The 2021–22 Tools for Teachers Shared Practices Webinar Series begins in September! Educators can select any or all of the five webinars in the series to become familiar with Tools for Teachers, a website that offers formative assessment instructional resources for English language arts/literacy, mathematics, and science. Learn how other educators are using these resources in their classrooms and get answers to your questions!

The webinars in this series are scheduled as follows:

  • Supporting English Learners with the Tools for Teachers Website
    September 21, 2021; 3:30–4:30 p.m.
  • Using Interim Assessment Data and Tools for Teachers to Support Instruction
    October 5, 2021; 2–3 p.m.
  • Making Elementary Science Sizzle with Tools for Teachers
    November 9, 2021; 3:30–4:30 p.m.
  • Tools for Teachers Resources at Your Fingertips
    January 25, 2022; 3:30–4:30 p.m.
  • A Teacher’s Best Kept Secret: Interim Assessments and Tools for Teachers
    March 1, 2022; 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Registration for the September 21 webinar is now available on the Training Opportunities web page External link opens in new window or tab.. Questions about this webinar can be directed to the California Outreach Team by email at

Training for New Coordinators: Assessment Accessibility

If you are an LEA CAASPP or ELPAC coordinator who is new to the role (or if you want a refresher), mark September 23 on your calendar for a free training opportunity: the second webinar of the virtual 2021–22 New Coordinator Training Series. This one-hour webinar, which begins at 3 p.m., will delve into the area of assessment accessibility. Register External link opens in new window or tab. today!

Schedule Posted for 2021 California Assessment Conference

The schedule for the virtual 2021 California Assessment Conference (CAC), taking place October 12–14, has been posted. Now you can check out all the offerings, including many shared practice sessions, where you will hear from educators from throughout the state sharing what they are doing at their schools and districts. For the schedule and more information, visit the CAC website External link opens in new window or tab..

Updated CAST Item Specifications Now Posted

The updated California Science Test (CAST) item specifications are now posted on the CDE CAST Item Specifications web page! There, you will find them organized by grade and science domain, and they can be downloaded individually or by domain. The revisions made this year were to update the Science and Engineering Subpractice Assessment Targets and the Possible Phenomena or Contexts sections.

A total of 175 item specifications are available—45 for grade five, 59 for grade eight, and 71 for high school. These resources help educators gain a better understanding of the three-dimensional nature of the CAST and, along with the 2016 Science Framework, they can be used to develop items for classroom assessments. A reminder, however, these item specifications are not intended to guide instruction.

Please be sure to share this information with science educators in your LEA. A useful flyer, “Introducing the CAST Item Specification External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)” is located on the CDE CAST web page.

Downtime for CAASPP and ELPAC Systems Starts Next Week

In preparation for the launch of the 2021–22 Alternate ELPAC, California Alternate Assessment for Science, and Practice and Training Tests, system downtime is scheduled to begin Friday, September 3, at 5 p.m. and run through Tuesday, September 7, at 8 a.m. During that time, the following CAASPP and ELPAC systems will not be available:

  • Test Administrator Interface
  • Completion Status System
  • Interim Assessment Viewing System
  • Practice and Training Tests

More information about impacted systems and other scheduled downtimes is available on the 2021–22 CAASPP Planned System Downtime External link opens in new window or tab. and 2021–22 ELPAC Planned System Downtime External link opens in new window or tab. web pages.

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, September 1, 2021
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