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CDE Releases Last Spring’s CAASPP Test Results, Several Subgroups Show Modest Improvement

October 3, 2018

On October 2, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards, a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards, a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

This is the fourth 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, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson expressed optimism with continued progress made by students and emphasized much work still needs to be done.

“We’re encouraged by what we see, especially since these tests are more rigorous than previous paper and pencil tests. However, we need to make sure all students continue to make progress,” he said. “We must continue our work to narrow achievement gaps as we raise the bar for our students, and better prepare for them for 21st century college and careers.”

Students in grades 3 and 4 made the biggest gains, which bodes well for the future as California continues its multi-year transition to more difficult learning standards, said State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst. “That our younger learners who have experienced standard-aligned instruction since kindergarten are improving faster is encouraging,” Kirst said.

California tested more than three million students. 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.

For the fourth year in a row, less than 1 percent of students did not take part in the assessments due to a parental exemption, a figure that is far less than in other states.

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.

It is important to note that the progress of English learner programs should be viewed by the performance of current English learners and former English learners, known as reclassified-fluent English proficient (RFEP).

Source: California Department of Education



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