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Assessment Spotlight, Issue 43

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) email update, May 2, 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.

New for Families: Starting Smarter Websites

On April 25, the California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Educational Testing Service, launched two new websites to help empower parents/guardians and families to become partners in their children’s academic success:

These family-focused websites provide resources to facilitate parents’/guardians’ understanding of the scores presented on their child’s Student Score Reports. Using these websites, families can become involved in their child’s educational progress and:

  • Learn more about the performance areas in each subject and grade.
  • See sample test questions.
  • Prepare for parent-teacher conferences with a useful downloadable guide.
  • Access high-quality resources to support learning at home.

Coming Soon! Focused Interim Assessment Blocks

Starting in the 2019–20 school year, California educators will have access to new Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs) that are focused on fewer assessment targets than most current IABs. These focused IABs are designed to measure smaller bundles of content to give teachers a better understanding of students’ knowledge and academic performance and provide teachers with precise next steps for instruction. In addition to the more than 100 IABs that are already available to teachers, approximately 40 focused IABs are slated for release in 2019-20, followed by approximately 90 more over the following two school years.

More information about this new type of IAB is presented in an illustrated flyer (PDF), available on the CDE Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments web page. Watch for more announcements in the coming months regarding these new IAB choices for educators.

May’s Featured Digital Library Resource: “Cranky Counterclaims”

Are you looking to draw logical arguments from your students? May’s featured Smarter Balanced Digital Library resource, “Cranky Counterclaims” External link opens in new window or tab. (Digital Library account required), can help! In this lesson designed for grade eight, students analyze a short excerpt from a mentor text—an editorial—to write counterclaims for a persuasive argument. Matthew Cowan, a California member of the Digital Library State Network of Educators, created this instructional resource for English language arts/literacy (ELA) teachers.

The teacher starts this lesson by leading the class in a discussion about different strategies for developing a strong persuasive argument. Then, the teacher introduces the 2015 award-winning editorial “The War on Drugs” (published in The New York Times), written by teenager Brody Ford. The teacher uses sentence frames, rubrics, and modeling on how to write an effective persuasive counterclaim to support the students during the lesson. This resource provides a variety of formative assessment strategies, including ways to check for understanding, ways to provide in-the-moment feedback, and extension/enrichment opportunities to engage all learners.

To access this resource and for more information about the 3,000+ other instructional and professional learning Digital Library resources available for educators, visit the Smarter Balanced Digital Library External link opens in new window or tab. (Digital Library account required).

California Science Test—Key Messages Now Available!

The CDE will publicly release the 2018-19 California Science Test (CAST) results for the first operational administration. In preparation, the CDE has developed the CAST—Key Messages web page to help LEAs and school sites communicate about the CAST and the 2018-19 CAST results. Additional key messages will be provided shortly, so please be sure to check the web page regularly for updates.

In fall 2019, the CDE will seek the California State Board of Education’s approval of the CAST threshold scores; after approval is obtained, the CDE will release the results.

New CAST Item Specifications Flyer

Have you heard about the new CAST Item Specifications and wondered how these documents might be helpful? If so, you can refer to the new Introducing CAST Item Specifications flyer (PDF), which provides classroom educators with insight on how to use these resources. The flyer offers a quick overview of the item specifications to describe the three-dimensional nature of the CAST. Educators are reminded, however, that the item specifications are not intended to guide instruction. The item specifications can be used along with the 2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools as resources for developing items for interim, benchmark, and summative assessments for the classroom. Remember to find our new flyer, and be sure to spread the word!

Keeping ELPAC Test Materials Safe and Secure

This week’s ELPAC news comes in the form of a reminder: Please ensure that all ELPAC test materials are kept in a secure, dry location before, during, and after testing. After requesting that secure materials be picked up, please ensure that they are not left unsupervised until UPS arrives. Note also that damaged or wet materials may be unscorable or delay scoring.

All About Accessibility

Text-to-speech is an embedded designated support for most of the CAASPP tests and an embedded accommodation for ELA reading passages. With the text-to-speech resource, text is read aloud to the student via embedded technology, and the student can control the speed as well as the volume of the voice. This resource is most appropriate for students who struggle with reading and may need assistance accessing the assessment by having all or portions of the assessment read aloud. It also may be appropriate for students who have reading-related disabilities or who have blindness and do not yet have adequate braille skills.

Text-to-speech should be assigned only on the basis of individual student need. Designated supports are available to all students when determined for use by an educator or team of educators (with parent/guardian and student input, as appropriate) or specified in the student’s individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. For the CAASPP tests, accommodations must be permitted to all eligible students if specified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan.

More information on the use of text-to-speech 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., and the Accessibility Guide for CAASPP Online Testing, available on the CAASPP Portal External link opens in new window or tab.. In addition, short video tutorials are available on the CAASPP Portal. Find them on the Embedded Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations Video Tutorials 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 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: Friday, May 3, 2019
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