February 21, 2017
May 11, 2018

Dear Parent/Guardian of PAUSD Students Enrolled in Grade 11:

California’s academic standards—what we want our students to know and be able to do—are designed for students to graduate ready for college and a career. One way we measure their progress is through the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) assessments. Students across California in grades 3–8 and high school take these assessments each spring. These tests were created specifically to gauge each student’s performance in English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, and science. These tests measure the skills called for by the academic standards, including the ability to write clearly, think critically, and solve problems.

Because students participate in CAASPP tests statewide, they provide an opportunity to measure the skills of all students against the same academic standards. Given online, the tests are computer-adaptive, allowing more precise measurement of individual skills.

This year, most eleventh grade students will take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and mathematics.  However, students who have a significant cognitive disability, as designated in their individualized education program (IEP), are eligible to take the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs).  The Smarter Balanced ELA and mathematics tests reflect California’s rigorous academic standards and allow students to demonstrate analytical writing and critical thinking skills as well as their knowledge of facts.

Please mark your calendar as CAASPP testing will take place at Gunn and Paly during the week of March 28th, 2017. Please make sure your child is in attendance and on time on test days.  Students absent of testing days will be required to attend make-up sessions.

Your child’s participation in this assessment is valuable as the number of students taking the CAASPP assessment has been used to determine additional funding as each school is required by law to meet a 95% participation rate.  In addition, results may be used to assess the quality of our school and its programs, determine statewide and national rankings, impact state accountability reports, as well as provide a primary source of school-wide data to inform each school site’s Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) continuous improvement process. Therefore, although CAASPP assessment results will not be included on student transcripts and will not be used in the college admission process, parents and students should note that participation may impact individual students in the following areas:

Golden State Seal Merit Diploma

In January of 2016, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved that results from the CAASPP assessments may be used to satisfy eligibility requirements and earn the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, which recognizes graduates who have demonstrated mastery in specific subject areas.

The State Seal of Biliteracy

This program recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. To earn this seal, the student must earn a score of at least the “Standard Met” achievement level on the ELA/Literacy portion of the assessment and meet additional requirements for their second language.

California State University’s (CSU’s) Early Assessment Program (EAP)

The CSU and participating California community colleges will use student results from this spring’s Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments as a student’s EAP status in English and mathematics.

To learn more about the Smarter Balanced tests, please visit CDE’s Test Score Guide Website, which provides informative guides and test score descriptions as well as sample test items at different levels of proficiency.

Another great resource are the Practice and Training Tests, which can be found on the CDE’s Smarter Balanced Practice and Training Tests Webpage. Here, parents can experience the kinds of questions that students will encounter on the tests.

PAUSD’s Assessment webpage provides links to the above stated information, as well as information about EAP, the State Seal of Biliteracy, and more https://www.pausd.org/teaching-learning/assessment-information. While a 95% participation rate is required, Education Code section 60615 states that parents/guardians may annually submit a written request to the principal of their student’s school to excuse their child from any or all parts of the CAASPP Summative Assessments for the school year.  We encourage parents to contact their child’s school (specifically the site testing coordinator) with any questions they may have about the assessments or their child’s participation.


Glenn "Max" McGee