Issue 246

March 7, 2018


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.

Explore New Interim Assessment Reporting System Enhancements

This week, new features in the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Reporting System were made available to educators! The system enhancements include:

  • Key and distractor analysis. Users can view the percentage of students who selected each option in selected-response items.
  • Writing trait scores. Users can view English language arts/literacy (ELA) performance task traits scores for Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs).
  • Access to transfer student results. Users can view previous interim assessment results for students who are new to their classroom. 
  • Related instructional resources. Digital Library Connections Playlists are now available for all IABs. States, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools also can upload their own instructional resources for IABs.
  • School- and LEA-level data export. Administrators can export data by selected school(s) or the entire LEA.
  • Custom aggregate reports. Administrators can create custom reports for interim comprehensive assessments at the LEA or school level with a variety of filter or aggregate options.
  • Support for groups of schools and LEAs. A regional administrator can view interim assessment results for specific groups of schools or an entire LEA. 

Educators are encouraged to use these new features to better understand the ways interim assessment results contribute to a comprehensive picture of student understanding.

One IAB, Two Connections Playlists

The recent release of Smarter Balanced Connections Playlists for each of the 107 IABs includes two playlists for the “Grade 8 Revision/Editing” IAB—one playlist that addresses specific skills and topics related to grade eight revision, and one that addresses grade eight editing. The two playlists for this IAB increase the total count of Connections resources from 107 to 108!

Find Connections Playlists by content and grade using the dropdown options on the Smarter Balanced Digital Library Web page, and explore all available under the “Playlist” tab of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library (Digital Library account required). For more information, including links to sample playlists, visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Digital Library Playlists Web page.

Summative Assessments: Updated Comparison Crosswalk for Resources and Practices

A suite of resources, including universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations, is available for providing accessibility to the summative assessments. These resources are similar to those commonly used during classroom instruction. Smarter Balanced has updated the Resources and Practices Comparison Crosswalk, which lists the accessibility resources and provides the connection to pedagogical practices and common instructional practices. This updated resource can be useful in assisting educators and decision makers in determining the appropriate accessibility resources on the basis of instructional practices.

Spotlight on 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 among a smaller group and to use 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 in Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, available on the Smarter Balanced Web site.

Countdown to the CAST Field Test

The California Science Test (CAST) field test will be available on April 2 to all LEAs whose selected testing window is open. Consisting of a series of stand-alone items and two to three performance tasks, the field test should take about two hours to administer. It will be administered to students in grades five and eight and once to students in high school.

For high school, keep in mind that:

  • All grade twelve students will be administered the test.
  • LEAs can elect to administer the test to any or all students in grade ten or eleven. For grade ten or eleven students it is recommended that LEAs select those who are enrolled in their last science course.
  • High school students will have only one opportunity to take the CAST. For example, if an LEA assigns the CAST field test to a grade ten student and the student attempts to take the test, that student will not be able to take the test again.

Take Advantage of the CAST Training Tests!

The third-generation CAST training tests became available this week—one each for grades five and eight and one for high school. These training tests introduce students, teachers, and parents/guardians to the new item types that will be on the CAST field test. They offer an opportunity to get a sense of how the test questions are asked, and students can try out the universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations. Each training test consists of discrete items and a performance task. Find the CAST training tests on the CAASPP Online Practice and Training Tests Portal.

When accessing the CAST training tests, please use Firefox, Mozilla, or Chrome Web browsers in order to fully replicate the user experience of the CAST field test within the secure Web browser. We do not recommend using Internet Explorer for any of the training or practice tests that are located on the Online Practice and Training Tests Portal. For step-by-step instructions on how to access the CAST training tests, see the “Quick Reference Guide: How to Start a Training Test.

California Alternate Assessment for Science Reminders

As the scores for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science are being entered into the Data Entry Interface (DEI), LEA CAASPP coordinators, site coordinators, and test examiners can view the completion status report, which tracks whether the student’s results for each performance task have been partially entered or completely entered into the DEI. Note that for the CDE to count a student as having participated in the assessment, the student must attempt all three performance tasks, and the student’s results must be entered into the DEI.

Note that the default assignment for students’ science assessment is the CAST unless the student is designated for the CAAs for ELA and mathematics in grades five and eight, in which case the student will be automatically assigned the CAA for Science. For high school, eligible students designated to take the CAA for Science must be assigned the alternate assessment in the Test Operations Management System.

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.