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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 36

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, March 13, 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.

California Science Test: Item Specifications Available!

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce the availability of California Science Test (CAST) item specification documents on the CAST Item Specifications web page! A wide sampling has been posted, with the remaining documents to follow later this school year.

These item specifications describe how items for the CAST are developed to assess the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) and to provide details on each assessed dimension—Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs)—of a CA NGSS Performance Expectation (PE). Item specifications have been written for all PEs assessed on the CAST. One item specification per PE is available; each PE addresses at least one SEP, one DCI, and one CCC; and each item specification represents the integration of the three dimensions.

Originally, the specification documents were created as tools for item writers to ensure that new, multidimensional items would be aligned with the CA NGSS PEs. Over time, it became clear that the item specifications could be an important tool for educators’ use along with the 2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools. With these specifications, educators can gain a better understanding of the three-dimensional nature of the CAST; however, the specifications are not intended to guide instruction.

We encourage educators to use these documents and the 2016 Science Framework as resources for developing items for interim, benchmark, and summative assessments for the classroom.

Focus on Test Security—Overview of the STAIRS/Appeals Process

The CAASPP Security and Test Administration Incident Reporting System (STAIRS)/appeals process in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS) must to be used to report incidents that occur during the administration of the CAASPP Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments (both online and paper-pencil), the California Alternate Assessments, the CAST, and the California Spanish Assessment.

The local educational agency (LEA) CAASPP coordinator or CAASPP test site coordinator submits the STAIRS form after entering the details of the incident. The system then sends an email to the originating coordinator that includes the details of the submittal and the next step to be taken, which could be any of the following:

  • Fill out an appeal request.

  • Contact the CDE by phone (in the case of breaches that are not the result of social media exposure).

  • Contact the California Technical Assistance Center (CalTAC) by phone (in the case of breaches that are the result of social media exposure).

Only LEA CAASPP coordinators are authorized to contact CalTAC; test site coordinators should contact their LEA CAASPP coordinator. Note that incidents that occur during the administration of the interim assessments are handled at the local level and should not be reported using the STAIRS/appeals process.

ELPAC Domain Information Sheets Now Available in Spanish!

The Domain Information Sheets for both the Initial and Summative ELPAC are now available in Spanish on the CDE website! These resources provide descriptions of the task types for each domain tested on the Initial and Summative ELPAC and how the task types are administered.

Summative ELPAC Test Administration

Part of ensuring a successful administration of the ELPAC is providing administration staff  with the necessary information to minimize testing irregularities and security breaches. We take this opportunity to send out a reminder that test administration staff should:

  • Be vigilant in ensuring that students do not use a pen while taking the ELPAC.

  • Use the student eligibility reports available in TOMS to ensure that they do not inadvertently assess non-English learners.

For details on test irregularities and security breaches, please refer to the guidance provided in the Summative ELPAC Test Administration Manual, 2018 –19 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), located on the ELPAC website External link opens in new window or tab..

To make the reporting of irregularities and breaches easier for LEAs, a fillable ELPAC Testing Irregularity and Security Breach Report Form External link opens in new window or tab. is now available on the ELPAC website External link opens in new window or tab..

All About Accessibility

Separate setting is a non-embedded designated support. For this support, the test location is altered so the student is tested in a setting different from that made available for most students. Separate setting may be in a different room, allowing the student to work individually or in a smaller group, or the student’s use of a required assistive technology device or calming support. In another use of separate setting, the student may be tested in the same room as most of the other students, but in a specific location, such as away from windows or doors. The need for this non-embedded designated support is determined by an educator or team of educators.

More information on separate setting can be found inSmarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, available on the Smarter Balanced website External link opens in new window or tab. .

2019 California Assessment Conference: Registration Opens Friday

Registration will open this week—on March 15—for the 2019 California Assessment Conference (CAC). The CAC, scheduled for October 16–18, is a unique opportunity for classroom educators to explore the connection between assessments and classroom instruction and to learn how other California educators use assessments to improve teaching and learning. For more information and to register, visit the CAC 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 14, 2019
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