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 State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Results of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Online Tests

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.”

State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst said California is moving in the right direction—both the high school graduation rate and college eligibility rate are at all-time highs—but there is more work ahead to ensure that students can demonstrate a mastery of standards through testing. “We would like to attain the same progress on our new assessments that California is experiencing on other measures of school success,” Kirst said.

The California Department of Education (CDE) routinely shares test data with individual school districts to verify accuracy prior to public release of statewide results. When small discrepancies were found in August in a few districts, CDE delayed the official release to make certain all statewide results were completely accurate.

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 at the same time, 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.

The tests are part of California’s overhaul of education, which includes new standards, more local control and participation in school funding decisions, more resources for those with the greatest needs, and the California School Dashboard, a new way of evaluating schools and districts based on multiple measures of success, including test scores, college and career readiness, and graduation rates.

Smarter Balanced tests consist of two parts: a computer adaptive assessment and a performance task. The computer adaptive 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.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 48.56 percent of students met or exceeded the English language arts/literacy standards, a 4.56 percentage points change from 2015. In San Diego County, 56 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in English language arts.

In mathematics, 37.56 percent of students statewide met or exceeded standards, also an increase of 4.56 percentage points from 2015. In San Diego County, 44 percent of students met or exceeded standards.

California State Universities and many community colleges consider high marks on these tests for eleventh grade students a reliable sign of readiness for college-level work. This year’s results indicate 59.76 percent of grade eleven students are ready or conditionally ready for credit bearing college work in English language arts, with 32.14 percent ready or conditionally ready for credit bearing college work in mathematics.

It is important to note that the English learner (EL) group contains only current English learners. Once English learners become fluent, they are reclassified as fluent English proficient and are no longer counted in the EL group. To better determine the progress of ELs, it is recommended to view the California School Dashboard which uses multiple measures to determine the progress of English learners.

Parents can get individual student test scores. In addition, California provides the CAASPP Results Web page, where parents and teachers can view and compare aggregated results among schools, districts, and counties along with statewide results.

The California Department of Education (CDE) provides a wide range of tools to help parents, teachers, and schools understand and use CAASPP results.

These resources include an understanding student CAASPP scores Web site that provides parents and teachers with grade-by-grade, subject-by-subject information at all levels of achievement; detailed online guides for parents and teachers to use in analyzing results; and practice tests at every grade level in English and mathematics.