State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that 2017 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English language arts and mathematics remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.
This is the third year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.
Torlakson said he was pleased that students maintained the progress they have made since the initial year of testing and urged students, teachers, and parents to continue to aim high.
“I’m pleased we retained our gains, but we have much more work to do. We need to work diligently to narrow achievement gaps and make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “It’s important to remember that these tests are far more rigorous and realistic than the previous paper and pencil tests. We are asking more of our students, but for a good reason—so they are better prepared for the world of college and careers.”
California testing went smoothly for 3.2 million total students. On a single day (May 9, 2017), nearly 500,000 students took the online tests, the largest single day of such assessments ever. The most widely used tests are the Smarter Balanced Assessments in mathematics and English language arts/literacy, which are given in grades three through eight and grade 11. School districts have had access to their own results since May. Parents received individual student scores over the summer.
Smarter Balanced tests consist of two parts: a computer adaptive assessment and a performance task. The computer assessment bases follow-up questions on a student’s answers in real time and gives a more accurate picture of progress than paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice tests. If a student answers a question correctly, they get a more difficult question. If they answer incorrectly, they get an easier question.
The performance task challenges students' ability to apply their knowledge and skills to problems in a real-world setting. The two parts measure depth of understanding, writing, research, and problem-solving skills more thoroughly than the previous multiple choice paper tests.
Scores on the assessments fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. The state also computes the average scores of all tested students, by grade level, called “mean scale” scores, which reflects the progress of all students rather than only those who changed achievement levels from one year to the next.
In Tehama County, over 5,700 students participated in the CAASPP last school year. Over the next few weeks and months, Tehama County teachers and administrators, together with parents will be reviewing and analyzing student results. This analysis will provide valuable information that will help guide instruction to determine student-learning needs. The results from this year’s CAASPP will also be used by districts during their Local Control and Accountability Plan revision process this spring.
It is important to acknowledge that the CAASPP is but one measure of student achievement. Tehama districts and schools have additional sources of evidence of how students are doing to include local assessments, classroom performance and program participation.
This fall, California is launching the California School Dashboard, an online tool designed to help communities across the state access important information about K-12 districts and schools. The Dashboard is the next step in series of major shifts in public education, changes that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and put the focus on equity.
California is leading the nation in developing a system for evaluating schools and districts that includes multiple measures of student success. The new California School Dashboard is an easy-to-use online tool to access this wealth of information, giving parents, teachers and community members a fuller picture of a school’s progress.
Instead of relying exclusively on test scores as the previous accountability system did, this new system gives a snapshot of a manageable set of indicators, including high school graduation rates, career and college readiness, English learner progress and suspension rates, while still looking at test scores.
California's future success depends on preparing every student at every school to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The additional information in the California School Dashboard can help improve equity among student groups by revealing where disparities exist.
Having access to relevant information helps schools and districts understand where students are struggling and ensures staff can respond with resources.
Under the previous system, data about student groups was too focused on test scores. The new system provides student group information on a variety of helpful indicators and puts it in one location.
The Dashboard supports California's groundbreaking Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts and schools more flexibility in using state resources.
Districts and schools have access to the information they need to make the best local decisions about the education of children. New information will help principals, teachers, parents and community members pinpoint specific areas where schools are underperforming and need help.
It will also help identify schools that are excelling and can help others by sharing their methods and practices