California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP): An indicator of progress toward career and college readiness
California’s new academic standards – the things we want students to know and be able to do – are designed so students graduate ready for college and a career. One way we measure their progress is through computer-based assessments, which students in grades 3-8 and 11 take each spring. These tests were created specifically to gauge each student’s performance in mathematics and English language arts/literacy as they develop – grade by grade – the skills called for by the standards, including the ability to write clearly, think critically and solve problems. Teachers, business leaders and public colleges and universities all support these long-term learning goals, because they reflect what students need to be prepared for the career and college experiences that await them.
Three million students, one common yardstick
Every school is different, and each takes its own approach to teaching, learning and assessing student progress. Results of any test should be considered along with other measures of learning, and in consultation with a student’s teachers. Because CAASPP tests are given statewide, they provide an opportunity to measure the skills of all students against the same academic standards in the same way, and the results provide information schools can use to improve teaching and learning. Given on-line, the tests are computer-adaptive, allowing more precise measurement of individual skills. Parents receive a written report of their child’s scores, and can compare progress from one year to the next.
California's testing system makes improving instruction a priority
No single assessment can provide teachers with all the feedback they need to tailor instruction to meet the needs of their students. California also provides optional interim tests and a digital library of resources for educators to use and monitor student progress throughout the year. And because the questions students answer during these tests require them to demonstrate the abilities they will need to do well in college and the workplace, CAASPP provides schools with models of high-quality instruction. California State Universities and many community colleges consider high marks on these tests among 11th-graders a reliable sign of readiness for college-level work.
Shifting the focus to students and classrooms requires patience and persistence
California is leading the way in moving from a top-down approach to testing to a system focused on gathering insights about student progress and helping schools put them to use improving teaching and learning. These major changes take time to carry out, and it is important to remember that schools and teachers are still adjusting to new standards and assessments. Our education system has a long way to go, but we are making real progress in creating a system that serves the long-term needs of our students and our state.