February 21, 2017

Dear Parent/Guardian of PAUSD Students Enrolled in Grades 3 through 8:

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 state 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.

In grades 3-8 and 11, most students will participate in the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for ELA and mathematics. In addition, students in grades 5, 8, and 12 will participate in the California Science Test (CAST) pilot.  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) for ELA, mathematics, and science.

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 as one measure 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 Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) continuous improvement process.

Smarter Balanced Assessments


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. In 2017, parents will be able to compare results across three years (2014–15, 2015–16, and 2016–17) to determine their child’s progress in meeting the standards. (Exceptions: Only two years of data will be reported for students in grade 4, and only one year of data will be reported for students in grades three and eleven.)

To learn more about these tests, please visit CDE’s Test Score Guide Web site at http://www.testscoreguide.org/ca, 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 Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/practicetest.asp. Here, parents can experience the kinds of questions that students will encounter on the tests.

For additional information, visit PAUSD’s assessment page at www.pausd.org/teaching-learning/assessment-information.

California Science Test—Pilot Test (Grades 5, 8, and high school)


California’s new state standards for science call for students to think and work like scientists and engineers—asking questions and learning through hands-on investigation and discovery. Working with science teachers, California is developing a new assessment that emphasizes scientific thinking and reasoning. This year students in assigned grade levels will participate in the tryout of test items for this future assessment. While this tryout will not provide scores for you child, it is an important first step in developing an assessment that will fairly and accurately measure how students are achieving on the new science standards. For additional information about the new science tests and sample questions, please visit the CDE’s CAASPP Science Assessment Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/caasppscience.asp.

While the district has a broad testing window (March through May), school sites determine their site-specific testing windows.  Principals will notify their communities of the testing dates as they are solidified.  While a 95% participation rate is required, parents should note that 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 the principal’s office with any questions they may have about the assessments or their child’s participation.


Sincerely,

Glenn "Max" McGee
Superintendent