Instruction Division » Testing Information » CAASPP


California Assessment of Student Performance & Progress
The CAASPP statewide testing replaces the previous Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program starting the 2014-15 school year.

CAASPP History

Signed into law on October 2, 2013, Assembly Bill 484 launched a new student testing system for California’s schools, now called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). The CAASPP system is based on the state’s new California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS) for English–language arts (ELA) and mathematics, adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. This new system replaces the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program that was based on 1997 standards.

The primary goal of the new statewide testing program is to better prepare all students for college and careers in the twenty-first century. Computer-based assessments, developed through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, form the cornerstone for CAASPP. Schools throughout California will be participating in the Smarter Balanced Test in the spring of 2015.
Common Core State Standards

The new CA CCSS for ELA and mathematics replace the 1997 academic standards.  The CA CCSS, like the earlier state standards, describe what students should know and be able to do in these two subject areas at each grade level from kindergarten through grade twelve.  Since 2010, 44 states, including California, have adopted the Common Core State Standards for ELA and mathematics.  The CA CCSS are important because they help ensure that all students, no matter where they live, will graduate from high school prepared for college and work.  Having clearly defined learning objectives helps parents or guardians and teachers work together to make sure their students succeed.  The overall goal is that all students have the skills and knowledge needed to compete in today’s global economy.

Student Participation

All students in grades three through eight and grade eleven are to take the Smarter Balance Test in English and Mathematics in the spring.  The exceptions are students who have severe cognitive disabilities and are required to take the CAPA, according to their individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan.  English learners who have been enrolled in a school in the United States for less than 12 months (cumulative) also are excused from taking the ELA sections of the spring tests.

Test Formats

The CAASPP Program includes four tests:
  • The California Standards Tets (CSTs) are for California public schools and are aligned to the state content standards.  All students in grades two through eleven take the CSTs for the subjects listed for their grade.
  • The California Modified Assessment (CMA) is a grade-level assessment for students with disabilities in California public schools who meet the state criteria.
  • The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) is for California public school students who have significant cognitive disabilities and cannot take the CSTs even with accommodations or modifications.
  • The Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) have been developed for Spanish-speaking English learners in California public schools. These tests measure the achievement of state content standards in reading/language arts and mathematics in Spanish.
The spring 2015 assessments are presented in two different formats:
  • Smarter Balanced assessments are computer-based and presented in a variety of item types:  multiple-choice, short answer, and constructed-response questions and a performance task in all grades tested.  There is no isolated writing task, as was used in the STAR Program.  For Smarter Balanced, students will show their writing knowledge and skills in a number of ways in all grade levels tested.
  • The CST and CMA for science are paper-and-pencil tests presented in a multiple-choice format.  The CAPA includes a variety of test formats that are presented one-on-one by a trained examiner.  The EAP for ELA and mathematics in grade eleven are presented in a multiple-choice format, plus a written essay for ELA.
Statement of Performance on the CST

The California Board of Education determined the performance levels as:
  • Advanced – This category represents a superior performance. Students demonstrate a comprehensive and complex understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
  • Proficient – This category represents a solid performance. Students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
  • Basic – This category represents a limited performance. Students demonstrate a partial and rudimentary understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
  • Far Below/Below Basic – This category represents a serious lack of performance. Students demonstrate little or flawed understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area.
The goal in California is to have all students perform at the proficient or advanced level.

Exam Fees

No fees. State mandated tests.


Exams are ordered by the district.

For further information on CAASPP visit:
updated July 2020