California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
A chart of the California’s assessment system is composed of several testing programs. The elements of the statewide system are detailed on the California Assessment System chart, (PDF; 92KB; 1p.) Updated December 2011.
In 1997, legislation authorized the STAR Program for English language arts and mathematics in grades two through eleven. In 2003, the program added history-social science for grade eight, and in 2006, science was added for grade eight.
The following components of the STAR program affect middle grades students. The STAR program charts (on the CDE Web site) include the following information:
More detailed descriptions of the tests follow. Also refer to the California Department of Education (CDE) description of the Key Elements of Testing (PDF; 124.7KB, 8pp.).
The CSTs are aligned to the state’s rigorous academic content standards and administered in the second through eleventh grades. The subject areas assessed are:
The CSTs are criterion-referenced assessments designed to reveal what a student knows, understands, or can do in relation to specific objectives or standards. The CSTs measure students’ achievement of California’s content standards. Writing assessments, for which students write on demand in response to a writing prompt, at grades four and seven are administered as part of the English language arts CSTs. Refer to the Key Elements of Testing (PDF; 124.7KB, 8pp.) on the CDE Web site for a discussion of criterion referenced and other elements of testing.
The CSTs' writing assessments for grades four and seven, challenge students to demonstrate their ability to respond to a prompt on constructed-response items. Every other year, the seventh-grade writing prompt includes a reading passage (short story that must be read and analyzed). The inclusion of reading in the 60-minute test may result in test score fluctuations, especially among English learners and at-risk students. Along with results from local benchmark writing assessments, the writing assessment allows middle grades teachers to see how well students are progressing in their ability to address a writing prompt, as will be needed for the writing portion of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). The Teacher Guide for the 2008 California Writing Standards Test in Grade Seven (PDF; 1.33MB, 73pp.) provides sample writing prompts as well as rubric grading scores and explanations about the scoring for sample student work.
Senate Bill 2X (1999) authorized the development of the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). Beginning with the graduating class of 2006, California public school students must pass this test to receive a high school diploma. The middle grades are a critical time for students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to pass the CAHSEE.
The CDE provides STAR CST Blueprints to help guide teachers in preparing their students to take the California Standards Tests. They also serve to let students and parents, the community, and other education stakeholders know the depth/breadth of the content of the standards. The blueprints help make the assessment system transparent. At grades four and seven, the English language arts CSTs include a writing component, the California Writing Standards Test: Teacher Guide for the California Writing Standards Tests at Grades 4 and 7 (PDF; 390KB, 56pp.), which addresses a writing applications standard selected for testing each year. The blueprints indicate how many questions relate to each of the grade-level standards covered on the test. The standards that, while important, cannot be assessed using a multiple-choice format are identified with the notation NA* (not assessed). Although these standards are not assessed, they are important to the comprehension of the strand.
In 2000, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted English-language development standards that focus on English learners’ proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English. The instrument used to assess those students’ progress toward fluency in English is the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).
Federal law (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Title III) and state law (California Education Code [EC] sections 313, 60810, and 60812) require a statewide English-language proficiency test that school districts must give to students in kindergarten through grade twelve whose home language is not English. In 1997, Assembly Bill 748 authorized the California English-Language Development Test (CELDT). The CDE developed the CELDT to:
School districts are required to administer the CELDT to all students whose home language is not English. Students must be tested within 30 calendar days after they enroll for the first time in a California public school. Districts also are required to administer the CELDT annually to identified English learners (EL) until ELs are reclassified as fluent English proficient (FEP). CELDT data are used to calculate the annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) required by Title III.
The CELDT assesses listening and speaking skills (grades kindergarten through twelve) and reading and writing skills (grades two through twelve) that are aligned to the English language development standards adopted by the SBE. In May 2001, the SBE approved cut scores for beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced, and advanced. CELDT results show the English proficiency level attained by students in each skill area and overall. Individual student reports and student data files are sent to the school district. Districts must inform parents of test results within 30 calendar days of receiving student results from the testing publisher. Detailed information about the CELDT Initial/Annual Scales Score Ranges is available on the CDE Web site. Each year the CDE Web site posts CELDT Program Updates and Notes about the testing window and details about results.
"Guidelines for Reclassification of English Learners" can be reviewed in the California English Language Development Test (CELDT): Understanding and Using 2009-10 Individual Results (PDF; 709KB, 56pp.). Reclassification guidelines, established by the SBE, clarify the criteria in EC Section 313(d) to be used in reclassifying a pupil from EL to FEP.
Schools are required to assess each English learner for proficiency in the primary language within 90 calendar days of first enrollment in a California school “to the extent that assessment instruments are available . . .” (EC 52164.1[c]).
The research study Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners, K-12—Findings from a Five-Year Evaluation (PDF; Outside Source) indicates that EL students benefit from accelerated interventions that move them into mainstream classes as soon as possible.1
The California Alternate Performance Assessment is
an alternate assessment for children with severe cognitive disability.
Information for the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) is available for both English-Language Arts and mathematics on the STAR Web site.
In April 2007, the United States Department of Education enacted regulations for an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards. The CDE, in response to the federal regulations, is continuing to develop and implement an alternate assessment of the California content standards based on modified achievement standards for children with disabilities who have an individualized education program (IEP). Information about the (CMA) is available on the CDE California Modified Assessment (CMA) Web site.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) Assessment Requirements
Assessing Students with Special Needs
1Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners, K-12—Findings from a Five-Year Evaluation (PDF; Outside Source), Washington, D.C.: Prepared by the American Institutes for Research and WestEd, January 2006.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814