Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Assessment Spotlight, Issue 105

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, August 28, 2020.

Focusing on the CAASPP System and English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)—and including, when timely, updates on California’s other statewide assessments.

Test Administration Options Guidelines Delayed

Over the course of this week, the California Department of Education (CDE) and testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS) have been conducting final reviews of the guidelines for the three test administration options shared in Issue 100 of the Assessment Spotlight. As part of this review, the guidelines needed to be revised not only to provide instructions, but also to ensure that we are doing all we can to help local educational agencies (LEAs) protect both the student’s privacy and the confidentiality of the assessments. We greatly thank you for your patience. LEA ELPAC coordinators will be notified as soon as these guidelines are approved and posted.

CAC Scholarship Request Deadline Fast Approaching

A limited number of scholarship opportunities for the 2020 California Assessment Conference (CAC), which will take place this October 6 and 7, are available to teachers from LEAs facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for submitting a request External link opens in new window or tab. is August 31, and applicants who are selected for a scholarship will be notified by September 10. Note that, in order to maximize representation from LEAs throughout the state, only one applicant from each LEA will be eligible for a scholarship.

This year marks the second annual CAC, which will be held through a virtual conference platform. Details about this professional learning opportunity and registration are available on the CAC 2020 website External link opens in new window or tab.. The CAC is designed specifically for classroom educators.

New Resource! Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Connections Playlists

New connections playlists are available in Tools for Teachers External link opens in new window or tab.! A connections playlist is a group of instructional resources focusing on the content of a specific Interim Assessment Block (IAB). Each playlist provides a description of what students generally know or can do when they are below, near, or above expectation in that particular content area. There is now a playlist that corresponds with each of the nearly 150 IABs, which measure smaller bundles of content to give teachers a better understanding of their students’ knowledge and academic performance.

With your Tools for Teachers account, you have access to 150 connections playlists that include:

  • Student Performance Progressions
  • Academic Vocabulary
  • Teaching Considerations

The playlists can help educators integrate their use of the interim and formative components of the assessment system because they help teachers identify gaps in student learning, and then make decisions about their next steps for instruction.

An illustrated connections playlists flyer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) is available to promote use of the playlists locally! Find it and other related resources on the California Department of Education (CDE) Interim Assessment Resources web page.

How to Obtain a Tools for Teachers Account

The Tools for Teachers preview window remains open for LEA staff to explore a wealth of resources to support classroom instruction. There are two ways classroom educators and other LEA staff can obtain an account to access the full Tools for Teachers website External link opens in new window or tab. (logon credentials required):

  • LEA or school site coordinators can assign a role in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS), which includes Tools for Teachers access, for their staff.

    Please note that every role in TOMS includes access to Tools for Teachers. There is even a “Tools for Teachers Only” role in TOMS for staff who need access only to Tools for Teachers.

  • LEA staff can use the self-registration feature to create an account. Self-registration is available to anyone who has an LEA-based email account

For more information about Tools for Teachers, visit the Tools for Teachers web page External link opens in new window or tab. on the CAASPP website External link opens in new window or tab..

Available Now! 2020–2021 ELPAC Information Guide

We are pleased to announce that the new 2020–2021 ELPAC Information Guide (PDF) is available! Included in the guide is a “What’s New” section, which covers the following topics:

  • Alternate ELPAC
  • Receiving ELPAC Results
  • Using Initial and Summative Assessment Results
  • Initial ELPAC Domains and Task Types
  • Summative ELPAC Domain and Task Types

ELPAC: Answering Your Questions

The following questions and answers are included in this week’s Assessment Spotlight to provide you with further clarification and additional information related to the administration of the Initial ELPAC and test administration options:

Q: Can LEAs use a locally determined alternative assessment during the fall optional Summative ELPAC window?

A: Yes. During the optional summative window this fall, LEAs can use their locally determined alternate assessment, but it must be indicated in Student Test Assignments in TOMS.

Q: Can LEAs continue to use a locally determined alternative assessments for the Initial ELPAC until one is developed by CDE and ETS?

A: Yes. LEAs should continue to use their locally determined alternate assessment for the students who are being administered the Initial ELPAC through 2020–2021. Beginning July 1, 2021, LEAs will use the newly developed Initial Alternate ELPAC.

Q:  If we are an RSVP district this year, can we use 2019–20 Initial ELPAC materials from last year, or do we need to order 2020–21 materials?

A: RSVP districts must use the 2020–21 computer-based Initial ELPAC materials and submit all completed K-2 Writing Answer Books as directed by the test contractor. 

Optional CSA Letter Template for Parents and Guardians

The California Spanish Assessment (CSA) Optional Letter Template for Parent and Guardian is now available on the CDE website. LEA staff can use this customizable letter template to communicate individual student score information about the 2019–2020 CSA to parents and guardians.

Just Posted: Standard Setting Technical Report for the CAST

The Standard Setting Technical Report for the California Science Test (CAST) (PDF) has just been posted on the CDE CAASPP Technical Report and Studies web page. This report provides information on the purpose, methods, participants, and results of the August 2019 standard setting workshop for the CAST, which was conducted following the first operational administration of the assessment. The results from the workshop informed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s recommended threshold scores for the CAST, which were adopted by the California State Board of Education in November 2019.

All About Accessibility

Who remembers the Excel-based Individual Student Assessment Accessibility Profile (ISAAP) Tool? We are proud to announce that it has been revamped! The new ISAAP Tool External link opens in new window or tab., which became available this week, is web-based for the 2020–2021 school year and can be used for CAASPP or the ELPAC.

With the new ISAAP Tool, users can import student demographic data (or enter it manually), after which they can select specific assessments and identify students’ needs. For each student, the ISAAP Tool will create a list of accessibility resources that can be selected as a test setting. After accessibility resources are selected, the user can export a file that can be loaded directly into TOMS to establish the student test settings. The new ISAAP Tool is no longer limited to only 15 students at a time, as was the case in previous versions.

Please share this email with any educators in your local educational agency who would be interested in or benefit from this information. To join the email list, send a blank email message to Are you a new subscriber? Visit the CDE Assessment Spotlight web page to find previous issues.
Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Recently Posted in Testing