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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 109

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, September 25, 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.

Senate Bill 820 Approved!

This week, on September 22, a communication was sent to all local educational agency (LEA) ELPAC coordinators, announcing that Senate Bill 820 had been signed by Governor Newsom, allowing for a 45-calendar-day extension to the Initial ELPAC 30-calendar-day requirement. SB 820 allows LEAs a total of 75 calendar days to administer the 2020–2021 Initial ELPAC, officially score it, and provide the results to parents and guardians.

SB 820 also affects another statewide assessment, suspending the administration of the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) for the 2020–2021 school year. In addition, this bill waives the passage of the CAASPP English language arts requirement for the State Seal of Biliteracy for students graduating in 2020–2021 and allows the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) to be offered more than once per semester if public health requirements are met.

For the full text of this bill, visit the California Legislative Information website External link opens in new window or tab..

SB 820 and the Initial ELPAC: How to Proceed

Prior to the approval of SB 820, any LEA that was unable to assess a student within the student’s first 30 calendar days of enrollment was directed to document its attempts to do so, including the reasons assessment was not feasible, in the student’s cumulative file or the LEA’s student information system. Now that the bill has been signed into law, LEAs should continue to administer the Initial ELPAC to all newly enrolled students. If an LEA is unable to administer the assessment to a student within the 75-calendar-day requirement established for 2020–2021, it should document, in the student’s cumulative file or the student information system, its attempts to assess and the reasons it was unable to do so.

Please note that the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) is currently programmed to send reminder emails to LEAs at the 30-calendar-day mark if a student has not been assessed with the Initial ELPAC. At this point, it is not necessary to take immediate action if your LEA receives that notification; simply keep in mind that LEAs have a full period of 75 calendar days from the first day of enrollment to administer the 2020–2021 Initial ELPAC and remain in compliance with the requirements of the law.

Also note that LEA staff can view the breakdown of the number of days outstanding beyond the enrollment date when they log on to TOMS. To identify the students who have not completed Initial ELPAC testing, the LEA ELPAC coordinator can go to the Reports tab, choose the Initial ELPAC Reports, and then select the Initial ELPAC Student Eligibility Report to view the list of students who still need to be tested (students with an English language acquisition status of “TBD”). This report contains a column that calculates the number of days past the student’s enrollment date.

SB 820 and the PFT

SB 820 prescribes that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to comply with state and local health guidelines, the administration of the physical performance test shall be suspended for the 2020–2021 school year. Therefore, the PFT will not be required to be administered for, and the California Department of Education (CDE) will not be collecting PFT data for, the 2020–2021 school year.

This bill provides relief to LEAs that may not have the capacity to test their students because of circumstances related to COVID-19 and removes their potential burden of having to substantiate the requirements of PFT testing and data submission in possible subsequent state monitoring or audit visits. Although LEAs are not required by the state to administer and submit their data for the 2020–2021 PFT, LEAs have local authority in deciding how to successfully serve their students.

SB 820 also requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to consult with experts and other stakeholders in order to provide recommendations regarding the purpose and administration of the PFT. On or before November 1, 2022, the SSPI shall provide recommendations to the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the California State Legislature, the Department of Finance, and the State Board of Education.

Questions regarding the PFT program or policies can be directed to the PFT Office by email at

Updated ELPAC Directions for Administration

LEAs administering the computer-based Initial ELPAC to eligible students should be using the grade- or grade-span-specific Initial ELPAC Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing Directions for Administration (DFAs) as well as the 2020–2021 Initial ELPAC Online Test Administration Manual External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

The Speaking domain for all grades will be locally scored in the moment, and then the test examiner will enter the student responses and scores into the Data Entry Interface (DEI). Test examiners have the option of entering Speaking scores either directly into the DEI during the administration or entering the responses first on the score sheet during the administration and later into the DEI. The Speaking score sheet, which is included on the same page as the Writing score sheet in the kindergarten through grade two Writing Answer Book, should be stored in a secure location, and responses should be entered into the DEI as soon as possible. The new video “Entering Student Responses and Scores into the DEI” External link opens in new window or tab. was made available this week to provide guidance to test examiners in their role in the functions of the DEI.

In another development this week, LEA ELPAC coordinators were provided with access to the addenda to the DFAs in the Moodle Training Site. The addenda have been created to better support the consistent remote administration of the Initial ELPAC in kindergarten and grade one and the Summative ELPAC kindergarten Read-Along Story with Scaffolding test items. In the addenda, the instructions for items that ask students to identify the first word of a story or the direction in which the text should be read have been adapted for remote test administration.

To find all previous communications to LEA ELPAC coordinators, go to the ELPAC website External link opens in new window or tab., select the Resources tab, and then select ELPAC Coordinator Emails External link opens in new window or tab..

CSA Development: California Spanish Educators Needed!

Are you a California Spanish educator? We need your input on the continuing development of the California Spanish Assessment (CSA)! The CDE, in partnership with Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Sacramento County Office of Education, is recruiting California Spanish teachers for a series of opportunities related to assessment development. Educators who work with grades kindergarten through grade twelve and university educators are encouraged to apply. The next activity is right around the corner; the CSA Item Review Meeting, hosted by ETS, will run October 20 through 22. If you are interested in this excellent professional development opportunity, please be sure to apply as soon as possible!

The general minimum qualifications are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Knowledge of and at least three years of experience with the appropriate content area and student population

To apply, please create an account in the Educator Opportunities Portal External link opens in new window or tab.. If you already have created an account, you can go directly to the portal.

ELPAC Question of the Week

Q. What qualifies as specialized and targeted support services?

A. On August 25, 2020, the California Department of Public Health released the following guidelines to support the administration of the Initial and optional Summative ELPAC:

Specialized services are determined by LEAs and include but are not limited to occupational therapy services, speech and language services, and other medical services, behavioral services, educational support services as part of a targeted intervention strategy or assessments, such as those related to English learner status, individualized educational programs and other required assessments.

Now Available! Materials for the 2020 Interim and Formative Assessment Training Series

The materials for the October 2020 Interim and Formative Assessment Training Series “Implementing a Comprehensive Assessment System to Improve Learning” are now available for LEA staff in TOMS. This free virtual training series has been developed using a “train-the-trainer” model and is intended for any LEA staff members who will be training other staff on how to use the interim and formative assessment components of the Smarter Balanced system of assessments. Through this series of webinars, participants will learn how to train others locally on the following topics:

  • Module 1: Assessment literacy
  • Module 2: Performance task design
  • Module 3: Scoring performance tasks
  • Module 4: Claims and targets
  • Module 5: Hand scoring practice
  • Module 6: Formative assessment process and Tools for Teachers
  • Module 7: Interim assessment resources and systems

For each module, a stand-alone PowerPoint presentation and associated resources, including an overview video, are included. To download these materials, log on to TOMS External link opens in new window or tab. (secure sign-on required), select the Resources tab, and then select “Interim Assessment Secure Materials—Training” from the list of available materials.

Again, this training is free, but registration is required! Further details, including webinar dates and the link to register, can be found in the September 1, 2020, email from the California Technical Assistance Center, which is posted on the CAASPP website.

Questions regarding this training series should be directed to Educational Testing Service by email at

For questions related to test administration, coordination, and trainings, visit the CAASPP website External link opens in new window or tab. and the ELPAC website External link opens in new window or tab.. Please share this email with any educators in your LEA 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: Thursday, October 22, 2020
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