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CAASPP Update, Issue 144

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, March 9, 2016.

Focusing on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System, including the Smarter Balanced assessments—a major component of CAASPP—and the California Alternate Assessments and science assessments.

Development to Begin!

Today, after nearly a year of collaborative meetings—and the direct involvement of California teachers, national science education and test development experts, and other stakeholder groups—the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted a key recommendation on the development of new science assessments! This allows the California Department of Education (CDE) to implement an assessment development plan that proposes three summative assessments aligned with the California Next Generation Science Standards for grades five and eight and for high school. See SBE March 2016 Agenda Item 02 for more information regarding this recommendation.

California Alternate Assessments

Two items of note in this week’s news about the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs):

  • The CDE’s new and improved Web page for the CAAs is nearly ready for release! It should be up and running any day now and will use the same URL as the current CDE CAAs web page. The new page will include guidance for both parents/guardians and individualized education program (IEP) teams on who should take the alternate assessments and an optional checklist for use in the process of making that determination.

  • Also new is a video for parents, IEP teams, and anyone else interested in the new CAAs. The video, "California Alternate Assessments—2016" External link opens in new window or tab., is available on the CDE YouTube channel External link opens in new window or tab. and will be available on the new Web page as well. Anyone interested in a basic overview of the CAAs is encouraged to view this video. And, coming soon, a collection of “how to” videos addressing basic testing functions, how to log in for a practice test, how to modify settings in TOMS, and so forth will be available on the CDE YouTube channel. 

Deadline Extended: Opportunity for Educator Feedback

This month, Smarter Balanced is seeking feedback from educators on two new resource prototypes that allow teachers to connect student results from interim assessment blocks (IABs) and summative assessments to resources in the Digital Library. The new resource will provide suggestions for instructional resources that educators can use to address strengths and areas that need improvement on the basis of students’ assessment performance. Educators will use theirprofessional judgment to determine which of the specified resources might best meet students’ needs.

The two resource prototypes provided for review and feedback are:

Feedback can be submitted through an online survey External link opens in new window or tab. and must be received on or before March 18. If you have questions, please contact Charlene Schmid, Consultant, CDE Interim Assessment and Digital Library Office, by phone at 916-319-0362 or by e-mail at

Are You Ready to Administer and Hand Score Interim Assessments?

If your local educational agency (LEA) is preparing to use the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments, here are some helpful tips to follow:

  • Build staff and student comfort and competencies by using training and practice tests.

    • Training tests External link opens in new window or tab. allow students to become familiar with interface features and try out the various tools and supports. Results are not scored.

    • Practice tests External link opens in new window or tab. provide grade-specific testing similar in structure to the summative tests. All English language arts and math tests include one performance task. Results are not scored, but answer keys and scoring rubrics are available.

  • Encourage educators to become familiar with interim assessments by using the Interim Assessment Viewing System External link opens in new window or tab.. (Educators need an appropriate Test Operations Management System [TOMS] role assigned to them by the LEA CAASPP or site coordinator.)

    • Have teams of educators/curriculum leads estimate, by test and grade level, the time needed to administer and score responses that require hand scoring.
    • Using information gained from accessing the viewing system, have leadership and staff create a plan that takes into account the required staff, logistics, and amount of time needed to train local staff to learn the hand-scoring system and the hand-scoring requirements.

  • Consider easing into interim assessments by first administering IABs that do not require any local hand scoring.

  • During administration, monitor the Test Administrator Interface and regularly check the completion status (in the Online Reporting System) to ensure that students submit and complete all parts of the assessments and that performance tasks do not expire.

  • During hand scoring, ensure that all student responses labeled “tentatively scored” receive a final score and are identified as complete in the Interim Assessment Hand Scoring System. Tests must be fully completed, including any necessary hand scoring, before a score can be generated in the Interim Assessment Reporting System.

Phasing Out the Classroom Activity

Administration of the classroom activity is optional for 2015–16 testing, and there are no plans to develop new classroom activities. All future performance tasks will be developed with sufficient built-in supports (e.g., glossaries) to allow students to demonstrate what they know and can do using the resources provided in the performance task itself.

Accessibility Notes

Visit the CDE Student Accessibility Supports web page for information on the supports CAASPP provides for all students. This week’s notes on accessibility include the following:

  • Demonstration videos for the embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations for the CAASPP tests External link opens in new window or tab., posted by the Centinela Valley Union High School District, show how embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations are used for the CAASPP assessments. The videos are recommended for students who can work independently; there is no audio component, and the viewer must read the text to understand how the resource works. These short videos also are helpful for staff and parents looking to quickly acquaint themselves with an embedded tool. The text-to-speech designated support and accommodation are not included because these resources are available only through the secure browser.

  • The 2015 –16 Individual Student Assessment Accessibility Profile (ISAAP) tool External link opens in new window or tab. (XLSM) can be used to select and assign embedded or non-embedded designated supports and/or accommodations for up to 15 students per file. Two or more ISAAP files can be combined to create a single file for upload into TOMS. The updated, macro-enabled Excel file now includes printable step-by-step instructions.

  • The braille version of the Smarter Balanced tests will not be transcribed into the Unified English Braille (UEB) for 2015–16. A timeline for the transition of these tests to UEB is being finalized, after which LEAs will be notified.

Parent Notification Letters: Spanish Translations

The 2015–16 Parent and Guardian Notification Letter templates for statewide assessments, available on the CDE CAASPP System web page under the Coordinator/Administrators tab, are being translated into Spanish. The Spanish versions will be available later this month.

Note: The templates do not address a parent’s right to exempt his or her child from testing; however, LEAs may choose to add language to the templates to inform parents of that option.


Please remind school staff that 2014–15 Student Score Reports are currently available in TOMS. Students and parents looking for an additional copy of their Score Report should be directed to the school at which they took last year’s assessments.

March System Downtime Begins Next Week—Enhancements to Come!

Scheduled downtime for TOMS will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18, and end at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. This downtime is required to implement the following enhancements:

  • A new Unlisted Resource Report in TOMS

  • A new dashboard indicator in TOMS for LEA CAASPP coordinators to monitor assessment completion status for reporting purposes

  • A new e-mail alert feature for LEA CAASPP coordinators and test site coordinators to indicate student changes in California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System special education status that change CAASPP eligibility status for existing student test assignments or existing student accommodation settings

April System Downtime

Downtime for the Test Delivery System and the Online Reporting System will be April 7 at 4 p.m. through April 10 at 9 p.m. for loading the CAAs.

Please share this e-mail with any educators in your local educational agency who would be interested in or benefit from this information. To join the e-mail list, send a blank e-mail message to Are you a new subscriber? Visit the CDE CAASPP Update web page to find previous issues.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-4821
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
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