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Science Assessments Preliminary Indicators FAQ


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 (IEP) 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). All eligible grade twelve students are automatically registered in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) to take the assessment unless they previously met the science requirement. Therefore, local educational agencies (LEAs) are responsible for logging on to TOMS and registering their eligible students. 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 CAA for Science to high school students on the Science Test Administration for High School Students flyer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

  1. Why did local educational agencies (LEAs) receive preliminary indicators again for students who took the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science during the 2019–2020 administration if this was the first operational year?

    The 2019–2020 CAA for Science was intended to be the first operational administration. However, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, school closures, and the approved federal waiver of testing and reporting requirements from the U.S. Department of Education, many students did not complete testing. Therefore, the California Department of Education (CDE) decided to provide LEAs with preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and indicator category) for students who submitted all four of the CAA for Science performance tasks during the 2019–2020 school year. These preliminary indicators are the same as those provided to LEAs during the 2018–2019 for the CAA for Science field test administration. The first operational CAA for Science administration will now begin on September 8, 2020.

  2. If a student in grade ten or eleven did not submit all four of the 2019–2020 California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science performance tasks, will the student need to complete the remainder in the fall, or was that the student’s sole opportunity to take the assessment?

    Students in grades ten or eleven who did not submit all four 2019–2020 CAA for Science performance tasks have not met the science requirement and will need to take the CAA for Science by the end of grade twelve (i.e., all four performance tasks).

  3. If a student is in grade twelve and was registered for the 2019–2020 California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science, has the student met the science participation? What if the student did not submit all four performance tasks during the 2019–2020 administration?

    Grade twelve students who were registered for the 2019–2020 CAA for Science have met the science participation requirement irrespective of whether they tested. Therefore, if a student repeats grade twelve during the 2020–2021 administration, that student will be ineligible to take the CAA for Science during the 2020–2021 school year or in any subsequent administration year.

  4. What if students have a parent and guardian or medical exemption for the 2019–2020 California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science administration?

    Any grade five students who received a parent and guardian or medical exemption will not be eligible to take the CAA for Science again until they reach grade eight. Any grade eight students who received a parent and guardian or medical exemption will not be eligible to take the CAA for Science until they reach high school. All high school students who received a parent and guardian exemption or a medical exemption for the CAA for Science during the 2019–2020 administration year will be ineligible for the assessment during the 2020–2021 administration or in any subsequent administration year.

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 2019–2020 California Alternate Assessment for Science preliminary results, given that the results reflect an assessment that was not yet operational. The first operational CAA for Science was delayed by one year due to the waiver. Comparisons should not be made between the preliminary indicator results of the 2018–2019 field test and the 2019–2020 administration. These tests are not 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 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.

  4. Why were the preliminary indicators created?

    For the 2018–2019 school year, a double-testing science waiver was not available to negate the requirement for reporting results to parents, guardians, and the public; therefore, science results were required to be reported to them. In response, the preliminary indicators were developed to provide science assessment results to parents, guardians, and the public before the completion of the science assessment’s development.

    For the 2019–2020 school year, the California Alternate Assessment for Science was to begin its first operational administration; however, with the circumstances surrounding coronavirus 2019 and the suspension of testing, the California Department of Education (CDE) did not have a sufficient number of students who completed the assessment to perform a proper analysis of the data. Therefore, the CDE decided to provide local educational agencies with preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and indicator category) for students who completed testing during the 2019–2020 school year.

  5. 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. In 2020–2021, after the first 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 preliminary indicator results for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science be provided on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Student Score Report (SSR)?

    No. For the CAAs, the 2019–2020 CAASPP SSR will contain only results from the CAAs for English language arts and mathematics. Information regarding the CAA for Science SSR can be found on the Science Assessment Transition Timeline web page.

  2. When will students receive a scale score and an achievement level for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science?

    The California Department of Education will provide the CAA for Science scale scores and achievement levels after the 2020–21 administration is complete. For more information, see the Science Assessment Transition Timeline web page.

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

    The California Department of Education provided LEAs with the preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) for the CAA for Science results in the downloadable student score extract file found in the Test Operations and Management System. Find more information about this on the Reporting Science Assessments Results Timeline web page.

    It they choose, LEAs may provide student results to parents and guardians. LEAs determine the manner that is most appropriate for their local needs. For sample letters to use in reporting student preliminary indicators to parents and guardians, refer to the CAA for Science letter templates, which are available in both English and Spanish: California Alternate Assessment for Science—Optional Letter Template for Parent and Guardian (DOCX) and Evaluaciones Alternas de California (CAAs) para Ciencias—Un modelo opcional de la carta para padres (DOCX).

  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 2019–2020 preliminary indicator information?

    LEAs are encouraged to communicate the individual student preliminary indicator results (i.e., percent correct and indicator category) for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science to parents and guardians in a manner that works best locally. For sample parent and guardian letters, refer to the CAA for Science letter templates, which are 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).

  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?

    LEAs may use the following resources to report preliminary indicators to parents and guardians:

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

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

  3. Have local educational agencies (LEAS) received a downloadable student score extract file for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science scores?

    Yes, LEAs have received the results in the form of preliminary indicators (i.e., percent correct and category level) in the downloadable student extract data file in the Test Operations and Management System. LEAs may report individual student results to parents and guardians. For sample parent and guardian letters, refer to the CAA for Science letter templates that are 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).

  4. 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, because the tests were not equated, the preliminary indicators reported for 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 administrations of the CAA for Science are not comparable, nor will they be comparable to the operational scale scores and achievement levels after the 2020–2021 administration.

Accountability

  1. Will the 2019–2020 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.

    Due to the suspension of testing because of coronavirus 2019 and the approved U.S. Department of Education (ED) waiver from testing and reporting results, the CDE will not report to the ED any results from the 2019–2020 CAA for Science administration.

  2. What information will be reported for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science in 2019–2020?

    California reported preliminary indicators for the 2019–2020 CAA for Science. In 2020–2021, the CAA for Science will move into an operational administration, and California 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. For the California Alternate Assessment for Science, which grades will the California Department of Education (CDE) report participation to the U.S. 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 or after will be stored until those students are enrolled in grade twelve. The ED requires that all schools and local educational agencies meet the 95 percent participation rate for the science assessments.

  4. 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. In addition, 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 23, 2020
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