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California: Parent/Guardian Guide to the California Standards Tests

— State: California Department of Education
Updated on Dec 19, 2011

The California Standards Tests (CSTs) are given to students in grades two through eleven as a part of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Developed exclusively for California’s public schools, the CSTs provide information that can be used to determine how well students are achieving state content standards. These standards describe the knowledge and skills that students should learn in each grade. California’s content standards for all subjects and grades tested are available on the California Department of Education (CDE) Content Standards Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/.

Questions and Answers About the CSTs

Who takes the CSTs?
All students participating in the STAR Program take the CSTs with one exception. The exception is special education students whose individualized education program (IEP) specifies that they take the California Modified Assessment (CMA) or the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA).
What is done to help students with disabilities who take the CSTs?

Some students with disabilities may require testing variations, accommodations, and/or modifications to be able to take the CSTs. These are listed in Matrix 1. Matrix of Test Variations, Accommodations, and Modifications for Administration of California Statewide Assessments (October 2007), which is available on the CDE Student Testing Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/.

Test variations are allowed for any student who regularly uses them in the classroom. Accommodations and modifications must be specified in each student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. No testing below a student’s designated grade is allowed.
What is done to help students who are English learners?

During testing, students who are English learners may use English-to-primary-language translation glossaries or word lists that regularly are used in the classroom. These glossaries or word lists may not include definitions or formulas. English learners may use these glossaries or word lists for all subjects on the CSTs except the CST for English–Language Arts. English learners also may have test directions translated for them and ask clarifying questions in their primary language for all subjects tested on the CSTs, including the CST for English–Language Arts. Variations allowed for English learners are listed in Matrix 2. Matrix of Test Variations for Administration of California Statewide Assessments for English Learners (October 2007), which is available on the CDE Student Testing Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/

Which grades and subjects are included in the CSTs?

The following grades and subjects are included:

  • Grades two, three, four, six, and seven
    • English–language arts*
    • Mathematics
  • Grade five
    • English–language arts
    • Mathematics
    • Science
  • Grades eight, nine, and eleven
    • English–language arts
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • History–social science (may or may not apply in grade nine)
  • Grade ten
    • English–language arts
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • History–social science (may or may not apply in grade ten)

What content is tested on the CSTs?

There are three kinds of CSTs, all of which are based on California’s content standards:

  • CSTs that are based on content standards for a specific grade and subject, such as mathematics in grade two and English–language arts in grade ten
  • End-of-course CSTs administered in the secondary grades that are based on content standards for specific courses, such as mathematics, science, and history–social science
  • CSTs that cover content standards for a specific subject for more than one grade, such as the CST for Science (Grade 5)
What question format is found on the CSTs?

Questions for all of the CSTs, except the writing tasks in grades four and seven, are in a multiple-choice format. Students are presented with a question and asked to select the correct answer from four possible choices. Released test questions from the CSTs are posted for public viewing on the CDE Program Resources Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp.

For the CST for English–Language Arts, students in grades four and seven respond to multiple-choice questions and a writing task (prompt). The score on the writing task is combined with results of the multiple-choice questions to produce an overall score and the performance level for the CST for English–Language Arts.
How to find out more…

If you have additional questions about the CSTs or other tests in the STAR Program, please direct them to your child’s teacher, counselor, or school office. You also can find answers to questions about the STAR Program on the CDE Program Resources Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp.

About the Early Assessment Program…

In addition to the STAR Program tests, students in grade eleven may participate in the Early Assessment Program (EAP). The EAP is a collaborative effort between the CDE, State Board of Education, and California State University (CSU). The purpose of this assessment program is to help identify a student’s level of readiness for college-level work in English and/or mathematics. Detailed information about the EAP is available on the CSU Web page at http://www.calstate.edu/eap/ (Outside Source).

* Students in grades four and seven also complete a writing task as a part of the CST for California English–Language Arts.
 
Most grade ten students take two science tests.
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