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CAASPP Update, Issue 151

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress e-mail update, April 27, 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.

Summative Assessments: Peak Administration Time

As we approach the peak administration time for the summative assessments, please be sure to follow your local educational agency’s (LEA’s) protocol for reporting testing situations that require your test coordinator’s attention. The protocol typically involves going through the test site coordinator, who then reports the situation to the LEA CAASPP coordinator. The LEA CAASPP coordinator should then contact the California Technical Assistance Center (CalTAC) for assistance. CalTAC can be reached by phone at 800-955-2954 or by email at

Other important notes:

  • Ensure and verify that all background jobs, such as virus scans or software updates, are scheduled outside of testing time. For example, if your LEA’s testing takes place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., you may want to consider not scheduling background jobs (e.g., payroll jobs) during these hours.
  • The secure browser checks the applications currently running on a computer when it is launched. If a forbidden application is detected, the student is denied entry and receives a message indicating the open application. Similarly, if a forbidden application launches while the student is already logged on to an assessment—for example, if a scheduled task or background job begins (i.e., antivirus scans)—the student is automatically logged off, and a message is displayed. Before administering tests, LEA technology coordinators, test administrators, and test examiners should take proper measures to ensure that forbidden applications are not running on student devices.

Accessibility Notes: Separate Setting

Separate setting is a non-embedded designated support that offers a range of flexibility in making a student’s testing experience a comfortable and positive one. While some supports may still need to be requested as unlisted resources, others easily fall under the separate setting selection. The following clarification on separate setting is provided for guidance in determining when it should be used. Please remember that allowed accessibility resources vary for each specific test.

  • Separate setting—Test is given in a location other than where testing is regularly held because of a student’s need(s) or a test security precaution needed for an accessibility resource that must be provided for the student. Separate setting may include one-on-one test administration or the test being administered in a small group. All test security procedures must be followed when testing in a separate setting.
  • Most beneficial time of day—Test is given at a time other than the regularly scheduled time. 
  • Special lighting—Any specialized lights that are regularly used in the classroom for the student or that may enhance the student’s testing experience may be provided.
  • Special acoustics—Any arrangement/device that is needed for the student to hear or focus that the student uses regularly (including special hearing aids or amplification devices including FM transmitters) may be provided.
  • Adaptive furniture—Any furniture that is related to the student’s physical needs that is used regularly in the classroom may be provided.

To meet students’ hearing, visual, and attention needs, the following designated supports are available:

  • FM transmitter; special hearing aids; test administrator reading closed-captioned text to the student (student test setting: separate setting)
  • TV monitor; computer monitor (student test setting: magnification)

Devices provided under the separate setting must not be connected to the Internet. Most of the supports that involve magnification or amplification of sound, including the FM transmitter with/without cochlear implants, will need to be provided in a one-on-one test administration to maintain a secure and effective testing environment.

Before submitting a request for an unlisted resource, please check Matrix One: Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations for the CAASPP System to see whether the unlisted resource is already available as a universal tool, designated support, or accommodation. If you are not sure which support to select in student settings in the Test Management Operations System (TOMS), please contact the CAASPP Office at 916-445-8765. For additional information related to California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) accessibility, refer to the CAAs section of this issue of the CAASPP Update.

California Alternate Assessments

The CDE has received many unnecessary requests for the use of unlisted resources for the CAAs, such as hearing aids, American Sign Language (ASL), and separate settings. The CDE allows and encourages the use of “language of instruction” for the CAAs, meaning that the test examiner can use any language or instructional techniques he or she uses in day-to-day instruction to help the student access the test. If you communicate with your student using ASL, you can use ASL with your student in testing without requesting special permission.

But what about Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) cards? As long as the cards do not prompt the student and are used either by the test examiner to communicate the question or by the student to communicate the answer, PECS is also the language of instruction. In general, the only concerns would be related to either potentially prompting the student or compromising overall test security.

Because the CAAs are designed to be given one on one, they are always given in a separate setting. Many times, that separate setting allows for the use of a resource that might be more problematic in a group setting, such as the use of an FM transmitter with cochlear implants or a Smart Board to present the assessment to the student. For students taking the Smarter Balanced assessments, such instances may be unlisted resources requiring permission.

Also, the CDE has created informational and instructional videos for the 2016 administration of the CAAs. They can be found on the CDE YouTube channel External link opens in new window or tab..

2015–16 Post-Test Workshop: Connecting Assessments to Instruction

Educational Testing Service will conduct its 2015–16 Post-Test Workshop sessions in May and June. The workshop, “Connecting Assessments to Instruction,” will provide information on using the Online Reporting System and understanding the available reports, including Assessment Target Reports, to inform and improve classroom instruction. LEAs are encouraged to bring a team (e.g., LEA CAASPP coordinators, professional development staff, and curriculum specialists). Online registration External link opens in new window or tab. is now available, and each attendee must register individually. Please note that seating is limited.

Workshop Dates Workshop Locations
Live Webcast
San Diego
Los Angeles

Check-in at each session begins at 8 a.m. and the workshop presentation takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The lunch break begins at noon, and the presentation resumes at 1 p.m. Participants are on their own for lunch.

Questions regarding the workshop should be directed to CalTAC by phone at 800-955-2954 or by email at

Notification of Appeal Status

As the California Department of Education (CDE) processes appeals, LEA CAASPP and test site coordinators will receive an email from for each appeal submitted. The email will contain:

  • Appeal case number
  • Date appeal was submitted
  • Date appeal was processed
  • Name of the appealed test
  • Type of appeal (i.e., test reset, test reopen, invalidation, grace period extension, or restore)
  • Disposition of appeal (e.g., rejected, approved, or rejected by system)
  • Who submitted appeal and submitter’s comment

Coordinators should take the following steps to review the response of the appeal approval or rejection:

  • Log on to TOMS External link opens in new window or tab..
  • Select the “STAIRS/Appeals” button in the left navigation bar.
  • Access appeals from the home screen either by selecting the “Appeals” tab in the upper left hand corner or by selecting the “Appeals” icon in the middle of the page.
  • Select the “View Appeals” tab in the upper left corner of the page.
  • Use the filters to choose the appeal type and status.
  • Review response in the comments column by selecting the triangle to expand the “Show Comment” section.

Next Week! Digital Library Spotlight Webinar and Forum: Including All Students in Assessments of ELA and Mathematics

Reminder: On May 2 at 11 a.m., Dr. Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes, will host a webinar on Smarter Balanced universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations. Registration External link opens in new window or tab.  is required for this one-hour webinar, but a Digital Library account is not.

Immediately following the webinar, Dr. Thurlow will facilitate a Spotlight Forum External link opens in new window or tab.  (Digital Library account required) for educators in Smarter Balanced member states. The forum will run through May 6. Take advantage of this opportunity to hear from and converse with a nationally recognized expert on supporting students with disabilities and English language learners!

This event’s corresponding Digital Library resource, “Including All Students in Assessments of ELA and MathematicsExternal link opens in new window or tab.  (Digital Library account required), features a student case to illustrate the tools available and provides further resources.

TWO CORRECTIONS to the April 20 CAASPP Update: The link to register for the May 2 webinar was incorrect, and the link to Travis Burke’s video in the Formative Assessment in Action video series was incorrectly titled. The correct title is “Using Ratios to Solve Real-World Problems.”

NEW Student Demographic Reports Available

New student demographic reports are now available under the “Reports” tab in TOMS, allowing LEA CAASPP coordinators to view a report that displays the current student demographic information at the LEA or school level. LEA CAASPP coordinators can use these reports to confirm that their student demographic data correctly reflects the LEA’s or school’s current student population before the end of their selected testing window. The public reporting website will use this student demographic information for aggregation purposes. Note: The last day to update student demographic data is the last day of an LEA’s selected testing window.

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 CAASPP Update web page to find previous issues.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Friday, April 5, 2019
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