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California Science Test—Key Messages


Transitioning to a new science education and assessment system requires patience and determination.

  • Getting it right takes time. Educators and students are still in the process of adjusting teaching and learning through the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). Together, we are making real progress in developing a system that will educate the future workforce in this fast-changing environment of science and technology.
  • Science assessment results will be included in the California School Dashboard when the appropriate time is determined by the California Department of Education and the California State Board of Education.
  • As we implement the CA NGSS and the California Science Test (CAST), California is providing a wide range of tools to help educators, students, and parents/guardians understand the CA NGSS and the CAST.

The CA NGSS are the next important step in helping all students gain skills for college and careers.

  • The CA NGSS call for students to ask questions, solve problems, and learn through hands-on investigation and discovery, all of which is more in line with what we know about how students learn best.
  • The CA NGSS emphasize analytical thinking, reasoning, and applying knowledge to a variety of situations.

The CAST measures the breadth and depth of these new standards.

  • The new standards integrate science content, practices, and concepts to help students understand how science works in the natural world. The new CAST has been developed to reflect fidelity to these standards. Developing the CAST required the formulation of questions that span different scientific disciplines.
  • The three-dimensional assessment questions on the CAST reflect the innovative approach to teaching science called for by the CA NGSS. The CAST includes content found within the grade bands—not just in the tested grades. This design encourages science instruction across all grades.

The CAST includes tools to help all students demonstrate what they know and can do.

  • The CAST features embedded accessibility resources, such as American Sign Language videos, refreshable braille, and glossary translations in the top nine languages used in California schools.

California’s science teachers, along with science and assessment experts, have been deeply involved in developing the CAST, which will complement teacher instruction.

  • Science teachers and science assessment experts will continue to play an important role in the item writing process of the CAST by providing input to ensure quality assessment questions.
  • While the CAST incorporates more interactive item types and simulations, the day-to-day experiments, in-class assignments, and assessments designed by individual teachers will continue to play the most central part in fully gauging what students know and can do.

Results from the 2018–19 CAST administration will be reported to local educational agencies and the public.

  • Local educational agencies will receive the CAST results in January 2020 after the State Board of Education approves the CAST threshold scores. Students will receive a Student Score Report with an overall scale score, an achievement level, and information about how the student performed in each science area (i.e., Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Earth and Space Sciences).
  • The CDE will publicly release the CAST summary results for the state, county, district, and school levels by student groups at a future date.
Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, August 22, 2019
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