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Assessment & Testing

A Comprehensive Plan for Student Success

Knowing that public schools must change to prepare students for the challenges of the future, California has developed a comprehensive plan for high-quality teaching and learning in every school. We have a long way to go, but our work is well under way, with higher academic standards, more decision-making in the hands of schools and communities, and more resources dedicated to schools and to students with the greatest needs.


The system-wide changes we’ve begun are focused on helping students succeed in the long run, achieving their dreams of college and a career. We’re providing more training for teachers, more resources for teachers and students, and more access to technology in all classrooms.


Thanks to teachers, administrators and school staff, exciting changes are taking place inside our classrooms. Along with reading to follow a story, students are learning to read to cite evidence and draw logical conclusions. They are learning to use math to solve real-world problems rather than merely pick out the right multiple-choice answer.


A New Testing System Built With Teachers’ Help


Teachers want to know what students know so they can adjust instruction. Like class assignments and report cards, tests provide one more way to assess student progress. Because the things we want students to know and be able to do have changed, our tests must change as well.


This spring, students will take part in the first statewide administration of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) for students in grades 3-8 and 11 for the 2014-15 school year. These computer-based tests will replace the former paper-based, multiple-choice assessments in English/language arts and math.


The tests are an academic check-up, designed to give teachers the feedback they need to improve instruction and the tools to improve teaching and learning. The assessments will use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about student performance. And because the tests are taken online, information will be available to students, parents, teachers, schools and school districts on a timely basis so it can be used to help students learn.


Scores: Hitting the Re-set Button


The new tests are too fundamentally different from the old exams to make any reliable comparisons between old scores and new. Rather, this year’s results will establish a baseline for the progress we expect students to make over time.


Based on trial runs of some test questions in California and other states, many if not most students will need to make significant progress to reach the standards set for math and literacy that accompany college and career readiness.


No student, parent or teacher should be discouraged by baseline scores, which will not be used to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade. Rather, the scores will represent an opportunity to focus on the needs of students and support teachers and schools in their work.

Patience and Persistence


California’s new assessment system represents the next step in our comprehensive plan to promote high-quality teaching and learning and improve student outcomes. This plan recognizes that assessments can play an important role in promoting and modeling high-quality instruction.


The course we’ve set in California is to carefully phase in change as state and local capacity grows. Educators and students are working hard to prepare. New textbooks and materials are reaching schools. Teachers are receiving training and new tools to support their work.


Teachers in California support these changes because, unlike in other states, the primary purpose of testing here is to support learning, not to impose high-stakes consequences. Patience and persistence are required to ensure a successful transition to more challenging standards in our schools.