Students & Parents » CAASPP State Assessments

CAASPP State Assessments

CAASPP stands for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.


At Arcata High School, students in Grade 11 complete the following assessments:

  • English-Language Arts Smarter Balance Summative Tests and performance tasks in their English III classes.
  • Mathematics Smarter Balance Summative Tests and performance tasks in US History classes.

All assessments will be completed on computers in either the Library Lab, Room 300 Computer Lab, or Chromebooks in a classroom.

  • Students with accomodations will be given an opportunity to complete their testing in an alternative computer lab.

Students who miss a testing day will be required to make-up testing at another time.


Frequently Asked Questions

How are results from the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments used?

Schools can use the results to identify specific areas in which to focus more attention in the next school year, while teachers can use the results to identify and address individual student needs.

For eleventh graders, the assessments have a direct impact on the California State University’s (CSU’s) Early Assessment Program (EAP). The CSU and participating California community colleges will use student results from the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments as a student’s EAP status in English and mathematics:

  • Students who score at the highest performance level (“Standard Exceeded” [Level 4]) are considered ready for college-level coursework in English and/or mathematics and exempt from taking the CSU English Placement Test (EPT) and/or Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam.
  • Students who score at the “Standard Met” (Level 3) performance level are considered conditionally ready for college-level coursework in English and/or mathematics and exempt from taking the CSU English Placement Test (EPT) and/or Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam. However, they must take an approved English and/or mathematics course in twelfth grade and receive a grade of “C” or better. Students that do not meet the conditional requirement will need to participate in the CSU’s Early Start Program, unless exemption was met through another pathway.
  • Students who score at the “Standard Nearly Met” (Level 2) performance level are considered not yet ready for college-level coursework in English and/or mathematics and will need additional preparation in the twelfth grade. They will also be required to take the EPT and/or ELM exam unless they meet the exemption criteria through another pathway.
  • Students who score at the “Standard Not Met” (Level 1) performance level are considered not ready for college-level work in English and/or mathematics. They will need substantial improvement to demonstrate knowledge and skills needed for success in entry-level credit-bearing college coursework after high school.

Grade 11 students are encouraged to submit their test results to the CSU by selecting the release button at the end of each CAASPP exam (i.e., for both the English language arts/Literacy and mathematics assessments).

For more information, please see the CSU’s Early Assessment Program Web page .

What does Smarter Balance Summative Assessment mean?

Smarter Balance refers to the computer-based portion of the test. It includes questions from all of the standards taught in that grade and replaces the old STAR tests that students used to take in English Language Arts and Math.

Why is the test sometimes called 2 different things, CAASPP and Smarter Balance Summative Assessment?

The Smarter Balance Summative Assessment is one part of the CAASPP testing. However, the different parts of the test are often just referred to as CAASPP. When you hear “CAASPP testing” it includes the Smarter Balance test, performance tasks, and Science in specific grades.

Is the test a multiple choice format?

The Smarter Balance Summative Test includes a variety of question types. For example, students may be asked to choose several correct answers, highlight key points, drag and drop answers from a text, or type in free response answers.

What is a performance task?

Performance tasks are extended activities that measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards—a key component of college and career readiness. Performance tasks will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items. These tasks typically include a short lesson presented by the test proctor with a follow-up task completed on the computer by the student. Some performance tasks can be scored automatically; many will be hand-scored by professionally trained readers.

Is the entire test done on the computer?

All of the Smarter Balance Summative Test and Performance task questions will be answered using an adaptive computer program.

Is the test timed?

No, there is a suggested time for each portion of the test, but students may continue working until the test is complete.

What standards is the test based on?

The Smarter Balance Summative test and performance task is based on Common Core standards found here:

Common Core ELA              Common Core Math

I would like to help prepare my student for the CAASPP.

There are numerous ways to prepare your student for the upcoming CAASPP test.

  • The California Department of Education offers practice tests for all testing grades. Click on the link below and sign in as “Guest” CDE Practice Tests

How long will it take for me to receive my student’s test results?

The CAASPP test scores are typically mailed to us in mid-August. Although we send them as quickly as we can, we have 30 days to get them in the mail to the student’s home using the last known address registered with the school.

Where can parents find more information about their children's scores?

Sample score reports, understanding your student’s score reports flyers, and parent guides are located on the CDE, CAASPP Student Score Report Information Web page. The Smarter Balanced Web site is designed to help parents understand their child’s score report and the progress their child is toward graduating ready for college and career.

What happens if too few students participate in testing?

California has scaled back the use of standardized assessments, and currently only tests in the grades and subjects required by federal law. The federal government requires a 95 percent participation rate, and may withhold funding to states where too few students participate, though no state has actually lost funding so far. States are also required to use test participation as one component of local school accountability, but no determination about consequences has been made. Last year, more than 97 percent of eligible students took part in CAASPP.


For more information, please see the CAASPP website, the California Parent Teacher Association (PTA) website, or contact Arcata High at 707-825-2400.

Information directly taken from the the CAASPP website.