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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 35

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, March 6, 2019.

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

CAASPP Manuals for a Successful Administration!

Are you ready for this year’s CAASPP administration? Find the information you need in the following manuals, which are now available on the CAASPP Portal External link opens in new window or tab. :

Focus on Test Security: New STAIRS/Appeals Process

The online STAIRS/appeals process, available to CAASPP local educational agency (LEA) and site coordinators through the Test Operations Management System (TOMS), is the means for reporting and resolving test security incidents or other testing issues that interfere with the administration and completion of the summative assessments.

CAASPP coordinators report incidents/issues through the CAASPP STAIRS/Appeals web form, which is accessed in TOMS. If applicable, they resolve incidents by filing an appeal request in TOMS to reset, reopen, invalidate, restore, or grant a grace period extension to a student’s test. Because appeals are submitted during the STAIRS/appeals process, they can be tracked and accessed in TOMS, where LEAs can request STAIRS and appeals reports that show the status of STAIRS cases and appeal types.

This Month’s Featured Digital Library Resource—“Determining Word Meanings Using an Excerpt from ‘Charles’ by Shirley Jackson”

“Wait, what was that word?” Educators know that every reader comes across challenging new words while reading. Experienced readers are able to find the meaning of those difficult words using key skills they have learned. Teachers can help their students learn the skills for understanding unknown words through classroom practice that entails the strategies presented in this month’s featured Digital Library resource, “Determining Word Meanings Using an Excerpt from ‘Charles’ by Shirley Jackson” External link opens in new window or tab. (Digital Library account required).

This high school-level English language arts/literacy resource can be implemented with the whole class, with small groups, or for independent practice. During this lesson, students use contextual clues and resources to determine word meanings in a complex text. To build their strategy skills, they use a resource sheet with text, a graphic organizer, a class anchor chart, and teacher-directed guiding questions.

The lesson incorporates all four attributes of the formative assessment process: clarify intended learning, elicit evidence, interpret evidence, and act on evidence. The teacher clarifies the intended learning at the beginning of the lesson and uses gradual-release-of-responsibility teaching, think-pair-share, and cooperative learning to elicit, interpret, and act on evidence throughout the lesson to ensure student understanding of the learning goal.

This Digital Library resource contains all the teacher materials needed for the lesson, including directions, resources, and graphic organizers as well as the differentiated instruction considerations necessary for all students to succeed. To access this lesson and 3,000+ other instructional and professional learning resources available to educators, visit the Smarter Balanced Digital Library External link opens in new window or tab. (Digital Library account required).

Next Generation Science Standards: Three-Dimensional Learning Is a SNAP!

The Stanford NGSS Assessment Project (SNAP) has developed free resources to engage teachers, coaches, and administrators in professional learning on the development and use of assessments to support three-dimensional science learning! The resources include sample performance assessments External link opens in new window or tab. for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and a toolkit for developing and using the performance assessments External link opens in new window or tab.. Also included are free hybrid online courses External link opens in new window or tab. created to be taken by groups of colleagues. The courses have been designed to guide collaborative learning activities that connect to NGSS assessment using the SNAP toolkit and sample assessments. To find these and other resources, visit the SNAP website External link opens in new window or tab.. To contact SNAP, email Jill Wertheim at

Reminder: Science Reference Tools Available

The California Science Test (CAST) has two embedded universal tools available to all grade eight and high school students that may be used during testing: a periodic table and a reference sheet of formulas and constants. Students who are unable to access the online version of the periodic table and reference sheet during testing may use a printed version as a non-embedded designated support. If students use the printed version of these resources during testing, be sure to indicate the use of this non-embedded designated support in TOMS.

Teachers are encouraged to provide students with printable versions of the periodic table and reference sheets during regular class time to (1) signal to students that they do not need to memorize formulas or elements from the periodic table and (2) help students become familiar with these resources. Note, however, that these resources are not meant to guide instruction.

The printable PDF versions of the periodic table and the reference sheets of formulas and constants are located on the CAASPP Portal Test Administration—CAST web page External link opens in new window or tab., under “Science Reference Tools.” Braille versions are available!

All About Accessibility

Translation glossary is an embedded designated support provided for selected construct-irrelevant terms for mathematics and science. When the translation glossary setting is enabled, translations for those terms appear on the computer screen when the student selects them. Students also can select the audio icon next to the glossary term and listen to the audio recording of the glossary.

More information on this designated support can be found in Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, available on the Smarter Balanced website External link opens in new window or tab.. In addition, short video tutorials are available on the CAASPP Portal Embedded Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations Video Tutorials web page External link opens in new window or tab..

California Spanish Assessment

We send a big shout-out to the 45 LEAs that have registered a total of 28,441 students for the new California Spanish Assessment (CSA), which becomes operational on April 1, and encourage LEAs to continue registering eligible students in TOMS. Find out all about the CSA on the CDE CSA web page and the CAASPP Portal CSA web page External link opens in new window or tab..

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: Thursday, March 7, 2019
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