CAASPP - California Assessment of Performance and Progress

California's Plan

The new science assessment is known as CAST: California Science Test. The alternate science assessment will be known as CAAS: California Alternate Assessment for Science. CAST and CAAS are part of the larger statewide system of assessments know as CAASPP. Both CAST and CAAS will be administered in grades 5, 8, and once in grades 10-12. The decision on when to administer the operational high school level science assessment will be local choice. The CAST assessment will be computer-based and should take no more than two hours to complete. The CAAS will be classroom-based and embedded.

Field Test Assessment - Spring 2018

In the spring of 2018 all LEAs will administer the field test version of the CAST and the second year pilot of the CAAS as part of the 2017-18 CAASPP administration. All 5th and 8th graders will participate in the CAST field test or CAA Science pilot. CDE plans to release new training items in the fall and spring. Information regarding administration of the field test in high school will be available in late September/early October. More information will be posted as it becomes available. Links to two CDE PowerPoints providing updates on the CAST and CAA-Science are available below. Please also visit CDE's Science Assessment site for more information.

September 29, 2017 Update:

CAST - California Science Test Field Test

Testing Window: The field test will be available for LEAs on April 2, 2018. The field test closes when the LEA-selected testing window closes.

About the Test: Each form will have 32 - 45 discrete items and 2 - 3 performance tasks. The field test should take approximately two hours to complete.

Surveys: The Test Administrator survey will have 7-10 questions and take 5-10 minutes to complete. The deadline for the survey is July 16, 2018. The high school CAST will include one question for students: "Do you think you will be enrolling in any more science classes in high school?"

High School Administration Guidance: In order to meet federal reporting requirements, the following decision tree outlines how the high school field test should be administered. NOTE: All 12th grade students should participate in the CAST Field Test. The 2017-18 Field Test will fulfill a student's high school science test administration requirement. This means that if your 10th or 11th graders participate in the CAST Field Test in Spring 2018, they will not have to take the operational CAST.

Training Tests: The California Science Test (CAST) training test was relaunched in September 2017 and now includes two new grade eight items! Be sure to visit the CAASPP practice and training test portal to check out these new items. The practice test is meant to prepare teachers and students for the upcoming administration. A third-generation training test will be released in March 2018 and will include three separate tests (one for each of grades five and eight and one for high school), greater accessibility resources to match those available on the field test, and some additional item types that will be present in the CAST item pool.

Accessibility: The CAST Field Test will have a range of accessibility supports including Universal Tools and Designated Supports. The universal tools will include revised reference sheets for grades 8 and high school. The revised reference sheets will be available in Spring 2018. Please refer to Matrix One at for a list of supports and to for recommended use.

CAA - Science: California Alternate Assessment - Science

Many revisions have been made to the CAA Science to facilitate administration and reporting. For the 2018 pilot, three performance tasks are to be administered over the course of the school year. These tasks will be available in November 2017 and will include a training video for test administrators.

High School: The administration of the CAA-Science for high school follows the same flow chart as provided above.

Updates from CDE

On September 28, 2017, the California Department of Education hosted its annual "North/South" Assessment Meeting in Sacramento. That meeting was broadcast live online and will be available for viewing on October 3. Two presentations relating specifically to science assessment were presented and the Power Point presentations from that meeting are linked below.

CAST and CAA-Science Fact Sheets for Parents and Teachers

CDE has developed science assessment Fact Sheets and Parent Guides to Understanding for 2017/18 field test for CAST and year 2 CAA Science pilot. The full back-to-school assessment toolkit is available from CDE.

You Can Be Involved!

CDE is recruiting classroom science teachers to participate in item writing, item review, and other science assessment development activities. If you would like to be involved in developing California's new science assessment, register yourself today at:

Pilot Assessment - Spring 2017

All LEAs will administer the pilot versions of the CAST and California Alternate Assessment for Science (CAA) as part of the 2016-17 CAASPP administration. All 5th and 8th graders will participate in the CAST pilot or CAA Science pilot. For the pilot, CDE will assign each high school a grade to be assessed in science. CDE has notified high schools of their assigned grade. CDE has reported that the sample size will be heavily weighted in 10th grade. All high schools will participate in the pilot. All students in the grade assigned to the high school will participate in the pilot. In August 2017, the US Department of Education approved California's request for a waiver from reporting individual student results for the 2016/17 school year.

Training tests and tools are now available:

The CAST Pilot

  • Will take place in spring 2017, the testing window opened March 20, 2017.
  • Will take approximately one hour for students to complete, including a brief student survey at the end of the test.
  • Will consist of 10-15 discrete items and one computer-based performance task.

The CAA Science Pilot

  • will be administered to any student in grade five, eight, or the assigned high school grade with an individualized education program that identifies them for alternate assessment and should be assigned to the CAA for Science pilot test. Instructions for assigning tests can be found in the TOMS Pre-Administration Guide for CAASPP Testing linked on the CAASPP Portal Manuals and Instructions Web page.
  • Accessibility Supports for students with IEPs or 504 plans will be limited for the Pilot but will be in place for the Operational Test in Spring 2019.

For more information on the pilot and operational assessment, visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Assessment Timeline:

Year CA NGSS General Assessment CA NGSS Alternate Assessment
2017 Pilot Test Pilot Test
2018 Field Test Pilot Test
2019 Operational Test Field Test
2020 Operational Test Operational Test


CA-NGSS Summative Assessment Plan (CAST)

On March 9, 2016 the California State Board of Education voted to approve proposed design plan for the California Next Generation Science Standards General Summative Assessment Plan. The full proposal can be accessed from the agenda posted on the State Board of Education website - look for Item 2. The following table summarizes the proposed assessment plan:

Segment A

Segment B

Segment C

CA NGSS PEs measured by grade/grade span

Gr. 5: 5th grade PEs
Gr. 8: 6-8 PEs
Gr. 10/11/12: High School PEs

Gr. 5: 5th grade PEs
Gr. 8: 6-8 PEs
Gr. 10/11/12: High School PEs

Gr. 5: K-5 PEs
Gr. 8: 6-8 PEs
Gr. 10/11/12: High School PEs

Types of Items

Selected response, machine-scoreable items primarily independent but some organized in sets.

Item sets which require students to solve a series of complex problem sets in discipline-specific contexts.

Will emulate item types presented in Segment A or B

Scope & Depth of Measurement

Wide breadth - measures a broad sample of CA NGSS PEs

Deep measurement of targeted sample of 1-2 item sets (multiple CA NGSS SEPs and CCCs per item set and one or more DCIs per item set as specified by task models).

Broad and deep - full range of measurement of PEs for each grade span

Reporting Level

Contributes to Student and Group Score

Contributes to Student and Group Score

Contributes to Group Score

At the 2016 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs, the California Department of Education and Educational Testing Services held a workshop on the new assessments. A copy of the PowerPoint is available online (ppt).

CA-NGSS Alternate Summative Assessment Plan (CAA-Science)

The CAA-Science will be administered to any student in grade five, eight, and high school grade with an individualized education program that identifies them for alternate assessment and should be assigned to the CAA for Science test. Instructions for assigning tests can be found in the TOMS Pre-Administration Guide for CAASPP Testing linked on the CAASPP Porta Manuals and Instructions Web page.

The concept of CAA embedded performance task relies on students receiving instruction on a particular topic, and then, shortly afterward, getting assessed on that topic by a test examiner using the embedded PT. However, the student may not receive any additional instruction once the embedded PT has started. For more information see Item 1, California State Board of Education meeting, July 2016.

Educational Testing Service, in collaboration with edCount, has developed the preliminary California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) alternate summative assessment Content Core Connectors (Connectors). The Connectors provide learning goals aligned appropriately with the needs of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and serve as the basis for the state’s CA NGSS alternate summative assessments for eligible students. A preliminary copy of the CA NGSS Core Content Connectors for Alternate Assessments is posted on the CDE California Alternate Assessments Web page.

Update on California's Science Assessment Waiver Request

(September, 2017)

On August 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) responded to the California Department of Education's (CDE) with a response to CDE's revised waiver request for a one-year waiver. This request for a one-year waiver was submitted after CDE's 2-year waiver request was denied by the DOE under the Obama Administration (see below). The DOE under the Trump Administration approved California's one-year waiver request for 2016/2017. In its approval letter, the DOE cautioned CDE that the waiver would not apply to 2017/2018. Per recent comments by CDE to EdSource, CDE is in the process of exploring options and will be submitting a plan to address the concerns raised by the DOE in their response. CDE signaled in their comments that they would not be seeking an additional waiver. CSTA will continue to monitor this issue and report out as soon as information is available.

California Requests Hearing on Double Testing Waiver Request

(December 2016)

In December 2016, the California Department and State Board of Education exercised its option to request a hearing on California’s request for a waiver to avoid double testing of students while the state develops its new science assessment (pilot to commence on March 20, 2017). In its request for a hearing, California requested to postpone the hearing until after the holiday season - rather than within the 30-day window as outlined in statute (which would mean the hearing would need to take place by December 29, 2016).

California re-applied for a waiver request in November 2016 and received a second rejection from the U.S. Department of Education. See See U.S. Department of Education Denies 2nd Waiver Request - CA Officials Balk at Rejection and Affirms Commitment to Science Education for more information.

Feds Deny Second Waiver Request - CDE Balks at Denial

(December 2016)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst released a joint statement in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of a waiver allowing California to suspend an outdated science assessment and instead give a modernized science test (see EdSource and The Mercury News):

“We are deeply disappointed by the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of our waiver request. We reject their insistence that we double-test. We believe the denial of this request harms our students, who will be forced to study science based on state standards adopted in 1998 that are outmoded and not designed for the 21st century.

“California plans to move full-speed ahead implementing our new, computer-adaptive science assessment pilot in 2017 based on our new Next Generation Science Standards.
“The standards, our new online test, and our new science curriculum framework, which guides teachers, are all part of an exciting renaissance in science education in California designed to equip our students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century economy and college.
“Upgrading our science education is especially important in a state that is a global leader in high technology, with companies eager to hire educated and qualified workers.“Virtually all the major education groups in California, including the California Science Teachers Association and the PTA, support our waiver request.
“California educators know better than people in Washington, D.C., how best to serve our students. We have no time to waste when it comes to improving science education. California moves forward, not backward.”

California Science Assessment Update

(October 2016)

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state's current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at

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