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CAST Item Specifications

Item specifications describe how items for the CAST are developed to assess the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS).

The CAST item specifications provide details on each assessed dimension of a CA NGSS Performance Expectation (PE). The CA NGSS dimensions are Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs). Item writers use the item specifications to write the CAST multidimensional test questions, which are aligned with the CA NGSS. With these specifications, educators will gain a better understanding of the three-dimensional nature of the CAST; however, they are not intended to guide instruction. Educators can use the item specifications and the 2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools as resources for developing items for interim, benchmark, and summative assessments for the classroom.

Background

The item specifications are based on the PEs in the CA NGSS and are designed to help item writers write test questions for the CAST. The item specification for an individual PE describes how students can demonstrate their understanding of the PE on the CAST. An item specification also includes possible phenomena and any relevant Environmental Principles and Concepts associated with a PE. The grade five assessment draws on PEs from grades three through five (3–5) and includes the foundational concepts that are addressed in kindergarten through grade two (K–2). The grade eight assessment draws on PEs from grades six through eight (6–8), and the high school assessment draws on PEs from the grades nine through twelve (9–12). More information about the construction of the CAST can be found in the Revised CAST Blueprint (PDF).

The CAST item specifications were written for all 175 PEs (i.e., 45 for grade five; 59 for grade eight; and 71 for high school) assessed on the CAST. One item specification is available per PE. Each PE addresses at least one SEP, one DCI, and one CCC, and each item specification represents the integration of the three dimensions.

All 175 item specifications are now available. The item specifications will be updated annually on the basis of input from California educators.

Introduction to the California Science Test Item Content Specifications (DOCX)

Grade Five Assessment

There are 45 PEs that may be assessed on the CAST; these item specifications are presented individually and by content areas.

Middle School (MS) Assessment

There are 59 PEs that may be assessed on the CAST; these item specifications are presented individually and by content areas.

High School (HS) Assessment

There are 71 (PEs) that may be assessed on the CAST; these item specifications are presented individually and by content areas.

Appendices

Appendix A: Complete List of the SEP Subpractices (DOCX)

2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools, Appendix 2 (PDF)

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Monday, February 26, 2024
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