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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 122

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, January 22, 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..

Interim Assessments Offer Flexibility Needed During Distance Learning

Did you know that the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments can be used in flexible ways to check student progress during distance learning? Here are some of the ways a teacher can use the interim assessments in a nonstandardized manner during distance learning:

  • Whole-class instructional tool. A teacher can use the Interim Assessment Viewing System to display an item for the class and discuss problem solving the item, giving students an understanding of the structure and expectations of Smarter Balanced assessments.
  • Small-group targeted intervention. A breakout room can be used with a group of students to show an interim assessment item while the teacher provides specific instruction to clarify any misconceptions and boost students’ learning.
  • Instructional planning. Students’ responses on the interim assessments can be viewed in the California Educator Reporting System to provide the teacher with specific information for planning instructional next steps. The teacher can use the Tools for Teachers website to see lesson activities and strategies that are directly related to Interim Assessment Block content.

More than 160 interim assessments are available to California teachers for both remote and in-person administration in a standardized or nonstandardized manner. To find more information about Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments, visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments web page.

New! Tools for Teachers Overview Video

Teachers who want to learn more about how the Tools for Teachers website can help them tailor their instruction and boost their students’ learning can now access a seven-minute introductory video titled Smarter Balanced Tools for Teachers External link opens in new window or tab.. This video highlights the following:

  • How the Tools for Teachers instructional resources use a common structure, including embedded formative assessment and accessibility strategies
  • How the Interim Assessment Connections Playlists can be used to prepare for and guide classroom instruction
  • How the Tools for Teachers professional learning resources can help educators build their understanding of the Smarter Balanced system

The Tools for Teachers website is home to hundreds of standards-based, educator-created lessons, activities, instructional strategies, and professional development resources to help California teachers. These resources can be used during in-person instruction and easily adapted for distance learning.

Note: For full access to the Tools for Teachers website, an account is required. Accounts are available to all California local educational agency (LEA) staff members and can be obtained either through self-registration or through the LEA CAASPP or ELPAC coordinator.

Opportunity: Summative ELPAC Alignment Workshop in March

Do you currently teach English learners and have expert knowledge of the English Language Development (ELD) Standards for one or more grade levels? Are you interested in a professional learning opportunity related to the Summative ELPAC?

The Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), the CDE’s independent evaluator, is recruiting California educators to serve as panelists for its virtual Summative ELPAC Alignment Workshop. Panelists will evaluate the degree of alignment between Summative ELPAC items and the ELD Standards.

The workshop will be held March 22–25 from 1 to 5 p.m., and panelists must commit to participating in each four-hour session. An honorarium or substitute reimbursement will be provided. To apply for this opportunity, complete the ELPAC Alignment Recruitment Survey External link opens in new window or tab.. Questions about the workshop can be directed to HumRRO by email at

Now Posted: New CAST Practice Test Constructed Response Annotated Examples

The California Science Test (CAST) practice test constructed response annotated example guides for grades five, eight, and high school have been posted! These documents are intended for use in conjunction with the companion CAST practice test scoring guides.

The new examples provide the prompts, rubrics with exemplars, and scored student responses with annotations. Each of the guides contains two constructed-response prompts, and each prompt has nine sample answers—three at each score point (i.e., 2, 1, and 0). Educators can use these examples to assist them as they develop their own constructed-response items for use in their classrooms. In addition, educators and students, working together, can use these examples to help students better understand how to respond to CAST constructed-response items.

To access both the new practice test constructed response annotated examples and the practice test scoring guides, visit the CAASPP Online Practice Test Scoring Guides and Directions for Administration web page External link opens in new window or tab..

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: Monday, January 25, 2021
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