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Science Assessments Preliminary Indicators FAQ


California Science Test

  1. Who takes the California Science Test?

    All students will be administered the CAST in grades five and eight and once in high school, unless a student’s individualized education program designates an alternate assessment. All grade twelve students will be administered the CAST unless they have previously met the science requirement. Local educational agencies (LEAs) have the option to test any or all grade ten or eleven students; however, it is recommended that LEAs select students who are enrolled in their last science course. Find more information on administering the science assessments to high school students on the Science Test Administration for High School Students flyer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

California Alternate Assessment for Science

  1. Who takes the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science?

    Only eligible students may participate in the administration of the CAA for Science. To be eligible to take the CAA for Science, a student’s individualized education program must identify the use of an alternate assessment. The CAA for Science is administered to students in grades five and eight and once in high school (i.e., grade ten, eleven, or twelve). Once the assessment is operational, all eligible grade twelve students will be automatically registered to take the California Science Test unless they previously met the science requirement. Local educational agencies (LEAs), however, will be responsible for registering eligible students for the CAA for Science. LEAs have the option to test any or all grade ten or eleven students; however, it is recommended that LEAs select students who are enrolled in their last science course. Find more information on administering the science assessments to high school students on the Science Test Administration for High School Students flyer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Preliminary Indicators

  1. What are preliminary indicators?

    Preliminary Indicators offer a general indication of students’ content knowledge. They include a percent of items answered correctly and an indicator category; they are not scale scores and are not achievement levels, which are more precise measures of student achievement. The California Department of Education recommends using caution when interpreting the preliminary indicator results for the CAA for Science, given that the assessment is not yet operational. In addition, comparisons should not be made between the year two pilot test preliminary indicator results and the 2018–19 field test preliminary indicator results, as these tests have not been equated. Therefore, they are not comparable.

  2. What are the preliminary indicator categories?
    Category Description
    3
    Student performance suggests a considerable understanding of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS).
    2
    Student performance suggests a moderate understanding of the CA NGSS.
    1
    Student performance suggests a limited understanding of the CA NGSS.
  3. How can a local educational agency (LEA) use this preliminary indicator information?

    Preliminary indicators provide a broad and early indication about an LEA’s implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards. They should be used in conjunction with other information available at the LEA, as preliminary indicators are not precise enough to stand on their own. These data are more useful for gauging group performance rather than for use with individual students.

  4. How were the preliminary indicators created? Who developed them?

    Preliminary indicators were created by assessment experts and vetted by California educators and the California Department of Education.

  5. Why were the preliminary indicators created?

    A double-testing science waiver was not available to negate the requirement for reporting results to parents/guardians and the public; therefore, science results must be reported to them. These preliminary indicators were developed to provide science assessment results to parents/guardians and the public before the completion of the science assessments’ development.

  6. How are preliminary indicators different from a typical scale scores and achievement levels?

    Preliminary indicators offer general information about student content knowledge, while scale scores or achievement levels are a precise measure of student achievement. Further, unlike scale scores or achievement levels, preliminary indicators do not make judgments about whether a given performance meets standards. The 2018–19 California Alternate Assessment for Science is a field test, and it is still under development. In 2019–20, after the new operational assessment has been fully analyzed, scale scores, achievement levels, and threshold scores will be presented to the California State Board of Education for approval.

Student Score Reports (SSR)

  1. Will the California Science Test (CAST) results be provided on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) SSR?

    The CAST scale scores and achievement levels will be provided on a separate CAASPP electronic SSR in January 2020.

  2. Will the preliminary indicator results for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science be provided on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) SSR?

    No, the 2018–19 CAASPP SSR will contain only results from the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments or the CAAs for English language arts and mathematics. Find more information on the Science Assessments—Transition to Operational Status web page.

  1. When will students receive a scale score and an achievement level for the science assessments?

    The California Science Test will provide scale scores and achievement levels for the 2018–19 administration, and the California Alternate Assessment for Science will begin providing scale scores and achievement levels for the 2019–20 administration. For more information, see the Science Assessments—Transition to Operational Status Web page.

  2. How and when will local educational agencies (LEAs) obtain the California Science Test (CAST) results?

    In January 2020, the CAST electronic SSRs and student results will be available in the downloadable student data-level file in the Test Operations and Management System. LEAs are responsible for reporting individual student results to parents/guardians. Find more information on the Reporting Science Assessments Results Timeline web page.

  3. Who will provide students' preliminary indicators for the California Alternate Assessment for Science to local educational agencies (LEAs) and when will they be provided?

    In January 2020, the California Department of Education will provide LEAs with the preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) for the CAA for Science results in the downloadable student file found in the Test Operations and Management System. Find more information on the Reporting Science Assessments Results Timeline web page. LEAs are responsible for reporting individual student results to parents/guardians. LEAs determine the manner that is most appropriate for their local needs. Refer to the CAA for Science letter templates available in both English and Spanish: California Alternate Assessment for Science—Optional Letter Template for Parent/Guardian (DOCX) and Evaluaciones Alternas de California (CAAs) para Ciencias—Un modelo opcional de la carta para padres (DOCX), for reporting results to parents/guardians.

Reporting Results

  1. To whom must local educational agencies (LEAs) communicate individual student score information for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science?

    LEAs are required to communicate the individual student preliminary indicator results (i.e., percent correct and indicator category) for the CAA for Science to parents/guardians in a manner that works best locally. For sample parent/guardian letters, fefer to the CAA for Science letter templates available in both English and Spanish: California Alternate Assessment for Science—Optional Letter Template for Parent/Guardian (DOCX) and Evaluaciones Alternas de California (CAAs) para Ciencias—Un modelo opcional de la carta para padres (DOCX), for reporting results to parents/guardians.

  2. What are some of the methods that local educational agencies (LEAs) can use to disseminate the individual student results for the California Alternate Assessment for Science?

    The following are suggestions for how LEAs could meet the requirement for science reporting to parents:

    • Distribute letters (using the provided template), either electronically or by paper.
    • Incorporate the reporting into the regular parent-teacher conferences.
    • Incorporate the reporting into the annual individualized education program team meetings.
    • Set up a personalized automated phone distribution for individual student results.
    • Establish a secure online portal.


    Note that this is not an exhaustive list. LEAs should choose an approach that works best for them.

  3. Must local educational agencies (LEAs) comply with the requirement of making the report available within 20 working days, according to California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 863 after they get the science results?

    LEAs are expected to provide the California Alternate Assessment for Science individual student preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) results to each student’s parent/guardian within a reasonable time. LEAs are expected to provide the California Science Test results to each student’s parent/guardian within 20 working days per California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 863 because these results will be included on separate California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Student Score Reports.

  4. Will local educational agencies (LEAs) receive downloadable student data files for California Alternate Assessment for Science scores in fall 2020?

    Yes, LEAs will receive the results in the form of preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) in the downloadable student data file in the Test Operations and Management System. LEAs are responsible for reporting individual student results to parents/guardians. Refer to the CAA for Science letter templates available in both English and Spanish: California Alternate Assessment for Science—Optional Letter Template for Parent/Guardian (DOCX) and Evaluaciones Alternas de California (CAAs) para Ciencias—Un modelo opcional de la carta para padres (DOCX), for reporting results to parents/guardians.

  5. Will the California Department of Education (CDE) publicly release the California Science Test (CAST) data at the school, district, county, and state levels on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results website?

    Yes, the mean scale scores and percentage of students in each achievement level for the CAST will be posted on the CDE CAASPP Results web page. Reports will be available at the school, district, county, and state levels, by student groups, and will be available in the CAASPP research file. The CDE and the State Board of Education will add science to the California School Dashboard at the time deemed appropriate.

  6. Will the California Department of Education (CDE) publicly release the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science preliminary indicator data at the school, district, county, and state levels on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Results website?

    Yes, the CAA for Science aggregate results will be posted as research files on the CDE CAASPP Results web page. Participation rates will not be provided in the posted results; they will be reported only to the US Department of Education. The CDE and the State Board of Education will add science to the California School Dashboard at the time deemed appropriate.

  7. Must local educational agencies import a student’s California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science preliminary indicators into a student information system?

    It is a local decision whether to use a student information system to store student results. Note that the preliminary indicators reported for 2017–18 and 2018–19 administrations of the CAA for Science are not comparable nor will they be comparable to the operational scale scores and achievement levels.

Accountability

  1. Will the 2018–19 California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science preliminary indicators be used for accountability?

    No, the CAA for Science preliminary indicators will not be reported on the California School Dashboard. Once the CAA for Science is operational, and doing so is appropriate, the scores will be used for statewide accountability.

    At the federal level, California will report the CAA for Science participation rates using preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) for students in grades five, eight, and twelve.

  2. What information will be reported for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science in 2018–19?

    The 2018–19 CAA for Science field test will report one more year of preliminary indicators. In 2019–20, the CAA for Science will move into an operational administration and will then report scale scores and achievement levels after the threshold scores have been approved by the California State Board of Education. Find more information on the Science Assessments Transition Timeline web page.

  3. Will the California Science Test (CAST) be added to the California School Dashboard in the future?

    The California Department Education and the State Board of Education will add the CAST only when it is deemed appropriate. At this time, there are no plans to report the participation rate for CAST in the California School Dashboard.

  4. For the science assessments, which grades will the California Department of Education (CDE) report participation to the US Department of Education (ED)?

    The CDE will be reporting to the ED participation rates for students who are currently enrolled in grades five, eight, and twelve. In addition, for reporting to the ED, participation rates for grade ten and eleven students who tested in 2017–18 will be stored until these students are enrolled in grade twelve. The ED requires that all schools and LEAs meet the 95 percent participation rate for the science assessments.

  5. Are all students required to participate in the science assessments?

    California Education Code Section 60642.5 (a) states that California students shall be administered a science assessment. Additionally, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Section 1111(b)(3)(A) requires that California “implement for students yearly academic assessments, including science, that will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of the state, local educational agency (LEA), and school.” Therefore, in order for California to remain in compliance with ESEA Section 1111(b)(3)(A), all California students will be administered a science assessment in grades five and eight and once in high school.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, July 25, 2019
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