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California Science Test


On September 4, 2013, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) as required by California Education Code Section 60605.85. The CA NGSS Appendices A–M also were adopted to assist teachers in the implementation of the new science standards.

On November 3, 2016, the SBE approved the Science Curriculum Framework.

The California Department of Education (CDE) is developing a new science assessment based on the CA NGSS. The statewide California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System includes federally required science assessments in grades five and eight and once in high school (i.e., grade ten, eleven, or twelve). This science assessment is the new California Science Test (CAST), which is based on the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve.

  • CAST video
    Informational video about the CAST pilot test and the CA NGSS

CAST Timeline

The implementation of CAST is under way, as shown below:

Year CAST Available Testing Window
2017–18
Field test
From April 2, 2018, to within the LEA’s selected testing window or last day of instruction
2018–19
Operational test
TBD
2019–20
Operational test
TBD

Eligible Students

The CAST is for eligible students in grades five and eight and one time in high school. All grade twelve students will take the CAST field test, and LEAs have the option to test any ten or eleven grade student who has finished their last year of science instruction. Once a student takes the CAST, that student is ineligible to take the test again. Refer to the High School Test Administration Flowchart (PDF) for additional information.

Administration of the Field Test

The CAST is for eligible students as described above. The CAST field test consists of 32 to 47 items with two to three performance tasks and a short survey; it takes approximately two hours to complete. Refer to the CAST Available Resource Guide (PDF) for more information.

Preparing for the Operational Test

CAST Accessibility Supports for Operational Testing (PDF)
This report establishes the accessibility guidelines used during the development of the CAST operational test.

CAST Field Test Accessibility Resources (PDF)
A graphic displaying the universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations (embedded and non-embedded) allowed as part of the CAST Field Test for 2017–18.

The California Alternate Assessment for Science is for students in grades five and eight and high school who are identified for alternate assessment by an individualized education program (IEP).

CAST Training Test and Scoring Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides sample CAST items for grades five and eight and high school. The scoring guide provides answers and scoring rubrics to items. A third-generation training test will be available in March 2018.

Science Reference Tools for Students in Grade Eight and High School External link opens in new window or tab.
Students can access CAST reference tools during online testing. The tools, which include a periodic table and a reference sheet of formulae and scientific constants, are made available to signal that students are not expected to memorize this information. They are not required to be used during classroom instruction and are not meant to guide instruction.

Introduction to the CA NGSS

The CA NGSS, on which the CAST is based, are much different from the previous California science standards (PDF) of 1998. The CA NGSS emphasize the importance of having a deep understanding of science concepts and engaging in scientific thinking. These standards further acknowledge the importance of addressing crosscutting concepts.

The NGSS for California also emphasize:

  • The integration of scientific and engineering practices throughout the content standards
  • The integration of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics
  • The integration of skills and practices across the content areas as the foundation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education
  • Student understanding and use of scientific knowledge within and across science disciplines
  • Learning progressions that develop in kindergarten through grade twelve.

How to Read the CA NGSS Standards (DOC)

Related Resources

The following Web sites and CDE Web pages include numerous resources for the NGSS.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Friday, October 20, 2017
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