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Top 10 Things A Parent Should Know About CAASPP Testing

In the spring of 2017, TVUSD students in grades three through eight and eleven took computer-based tests during the state-wide administration of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).  Here's what parents need to know about the tests. 

1.Students were expected to think differently

The new assessments are aligned with our new state standards, which were designed to encourage critical thinking, analytical writing, and real-world problem solving.

These are skills students will need in order to be successful in college and career. Questions that require abstract thinking, synthesis, and analysis made up 50 to 60 percent of the new state assessments. This is a dramatic increase in rigor over past state assessments.

2.Proficiency levels are set high

California has set high proficiency levels on the new state assessments, raising the bar for all students.

Based on projections from field tests in California and other states, it’s likely that fewer students will score at the higher achievement levels on the new assessments, especially in the first few years. However, this does not mean that students have fallen behind or learned less. It simply means that we’re expecting more from them and aligning what’s being taught in the classroom with what they will need to know when entering college or the workforce.

3.The assessments measure what students will need to succeed in college and career

The system-wide changes are focused on helping students succeed in the long run, achieving their dreams of college and a career.

4.We’ve moved beyond simple multiple-choice questions

There were fewer multiple-choice questions and more short answers and extended responses that required a deeper understanding of key concepts.

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.

5.These are computer-based assessments 

Students used computers to take the state assessments which gave students the opportunity to fully demonstrate their depth of knowledge and mastery of the state standards in English language arts and mathematics.

6.The assessments measure different skills in new ways

The things we expect students to know and be able to do in order to be successful in college and career have changed, so our assessments had to change as well.

7.Test scores will be reported this summer

This is the first year for the new assessments. Parents and educators will get the results in late summer, early fall.

8.Results shouldn’t be compared to earlier state assessments

The new assessments are fundamentally different from the old exams making reliable comparisons between old scores and new ones useless.  Rather, this year’s results will establish a baseline for the progress we expect students to make over time.  This is the same scenario districts experienced when the STAR program was implemented over thirteen years ago.  We are resetting our testing system and creating a new starting point.

9. State assessments are only one of many measures

These results should be looked at in context with other measures—including district assessments, report card grades, and portfolios of student work—to determine how well students are learning.

10. This is an exciting and important transition that will ultimately benefit students and parents

The new assessments are part of a larger plan for ensuring high-quality teaching and learning in every school. The plan also includes 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 National Association of System Heads, the State Higher Education Executive Officer Association, and Higher Ed for Higher Standards released a joint statement that acknowledges the scores will look bad the first year.

“Because the assessments have been purposefully pegged to a higher standard than previous state tests – a college- and career-ready standard – we expect the initial scores to be lower than what students, families and educators are used to,” the release says.

“This should not be cause for alarm nor an indictment of our K-12 educators. The tests are simply providing a more accurate assessment of our students’ readiness for the demands of postsecondary life, the need for which is validated by our own remediation numbers and employer surveys.”  

The release went on to say the higher-education groups believe this is the way forward.  “We must not back down if initial results are low,” the statement says. “The new standards and assessments are anchored in what it takes to succeed in college and careers. We owe it to our students to maintain these higher expectations and do what it takes to help them succeed.”