Research File Download Instructions
 Formats, File Layout, and Usage

Please note that using the research files provided at this site requires expertise in the management of large data files. These files can range from 1MB up to 90MB and more and take many hours to download if you are using a 56kb modem.

Working with these research files requires advanced data management skills. Many of the district and county research files are too large for spreadsheet applications such as MS Excel and Lotus. Database applications like MS Access, SAS, or SPSS will be required to fully manage these research files.

For each entity (school, district, county, or state), there are on average 900 records. Each record represents a different combination of demographic subgroups, grade levels, and test types. With so many records per entity, it is critical that the desired combination of characteristics is accurately selected.

Copying individual report pages into a spreadsheet application is possible if the target computer is using the most current operating systems and spreadsheet application versions.

Selecting a Research File

The Research files contain the aggregate score data for the California Standards Tests (CSTs), California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), and California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6 Survey). The research files are available in two formats: fixed width and comma delimited. A statewide research file containing the state, county, district, and school data for “All Students” (no demographic subgroup data) will be available in both formats. In addition, a similar statewide research file containing the data for “All Sub-groups” is available in both formats.

Files can also be downloaded for any single county or district. These files contain all data (all subgroups and tests) for all entities comprising the selected entity. For example, if a district file is selected, the data for all schools in that district will be included in the file. The research files are comma delimited and zipped to allow easier download and file import management. “School only” files are not available.

The 2005 Entities File contains all school, district, and county names. This file must be merged with the research file to join these entity names with the appropriate score data. A database program such as MS Access is most appropriate for this purpose.

Research File Formats, Layouts, and Lookup Tables

Research file layouts and value lookup tables are available at

The Research File Layout link provides the following information:

  • Type Legend – data format of individual data fields
  • Entities File – layout of entity file data fields
  • Test Data File – layout of test data file data fields
  • Table A - demographic subgroup listing
  • Table B - grade listing
  • Table C - test name listing
  • Table D -CAPA Levels and corresponding grade-spans

Users of comma delimited research files will find these layouts useful in confirming the sequence of elements as well as value lookup. Users may view and/or download any of the layouts and tables.

Also available from the Research File Layout page are two additional comma delimited lookup files:

  • Tests ID/Name Lookup Table – This table identifies subject test names and IDs for each CAT/6 Survey, CST, and CAPA test.
  • Subgroup ID/Name Lookup Table – This table identifies each of the demographic subgroups and IDs reported in the STAR results.

Both of these lookup tables are useful when associating test and subgroup IDs and names with codes in the comma delimited or fixed width files.

A database “shell” is another alternative provided at this site. Once downloaded to the target computer, this application provides a powerful school, district, CDS, and ZIP code search capability as well as a formatted report containing all the data for the selected entity. This MS Access 2000 shell contains all entity data and is designed to import any of the selected state, county, or district comma delimited files. MS Access 2000 must already be installed on your computer.

Compression Software Requirements

Files downloaded from this site are compressed. If uncompression software is not already installed on the target computers, it is available at the following locations:
  • For PC Users – Use uncompression software such as WinZip (An evaluation copy of Winzip is available at no cost at www.winzip.com.)
  • For Mac Users – Use uncompression software such as StuffIt Expander (StuffIt Expander is available at no cost from Aladdin Systems at http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander/.)

 

Instructions for Downloading Data Files

  1. Check your application software manuals to verify which record format best suits your needs.
  2. From the STAR Test Results Home page (http://star.cde.ca.gov), select the STAR Test Data results for the desired year.
  3. On the left side-bar, select Research Files. For SABE/2 research files, go to http://www2.ctb.com/SABE2STAR.
  4. Downloading a statewide file:
    1. Double click on one of the four statewide files listed.
    2. Save the compressed file to your computer.
    3. Uncompress the zipped file. There will be two files saved to your computer; a results data file and an entity file.
    4. These files are now ready to be imported into an appropriate application.
  5. Downloading a county/district file:
    1. In the Search Panel, select a county or district.
    2. Select Downloadable Research Files. A county and district downloadable file will now be listed under the County/District-level files heading. If only a county is selected in the search panel a district level file will not be listed.
    3. Double click on the desired county or district files.
    4. Save the compressed file to your computer.
    5. Double click on the appropriate entity file.
    6. Save the compressed file to your computer.
    7. Uncompress the zipped files.
    8. These files are now ready to be imported into an appropriate application.
  6. Downloading the 2005 Access Database Shell (Note: MS Access2000 must already be installed on the target computer)
    1. Under the Access Database – Main Component heading, select 2005 Access Database – Main Component.
    2. Save the compressed file to your computer.
    3. Uncompress the zipped file to your computer.
    4. Identify and download a statewide, county, or district csv(comma delimited) file containing the data you wish to evaluate according to the directions above. Be sure to place the uncompressed data file in the same directory as the 2005 Access Database – Main Component.
    5. Open the Access Database. The program will give the user the option to import any score data file in the same directory.
    6. Select the file(s) to import. (Note: the 2005 Access Database – Main Component already contains all entity data.)

Alternative Search Methods

In both the Search Panel and on the Research Files description page, three search lists are identified:

  • View County List
  • View District List
  • View Charter School List

Select the list corresponding to the data you wish to download. The resulting list will be alphabetical and give you the option of viewing the report or downloading the research data. Double click on your selection and use the directions above to complete the downloading of your data.

The Search button to the left of the search panel also provides a powerful search tool. Selecting the Search link returns a search form. You can enter any combination of elements into the form and return all schools that meet that criterion. These elements include:

  • County
  • District
  • School
  • Zip Code
  • CDS Code

Getting Accurate Results from the Research Files

Whether working with the fixed width, comma delimited, or MS Access 2000 research files, achieving accurate results requires an understanding of the structure and content of the two primary tables: the entities and the test data tables. The research files have many rows for each entity. There are records for each combination of 11 grades (includes end-of-course as a grade), 29 tests, and 51 subgroups. This means that there are hundreds to thousands of records for each entity, with an average of approximately 900 records. In order to correctly work with the data, you must use constraints to limit the data you are reporting. These constraints are discussed below.

2005 Entities Table – This table is comprised of the state, all counties, districts, and schools in California. Because there are both school level and district summary records, as well as county and state summary records, it is critical that in any analysis, a “Type ID” record type be selected. This will help avoid double or triple counting that will occur when a school count is also counted in the associated district record.

Test Data Table – This table is comprised of the school, district, county, and state aggregate STAR counts and scores.

To accurately analyze and report from these research files, the appropriate constraints must be applied to the following elements:

  • CDS code – The research files contain summary district and county records. A district summary record will have a “school” code of “0000000.” When working with the file, be sure to include the county, district, and school codes. Failure to include all three will result in double counting in any summary calculations.
  • Test Type – Identifying the desired test (CST, CAPA, or CAT/6 Survey) will help to provide clear query results.
  • Subgroup ID – Each student will be included in both the “All Students” subgroup aggregation and each of the appropriate subgroups aggregations. Consequently, an individual subgroup must be selected to avoid duplicate counts.
  • Test ID – In general, each student will take a number of tests (e.g., grade five student would take the CAT/6 Survey grade five reading, mathematics, language, and spelling, and CSTs in ELA, mathematics, and science). Consequently, a specific test should be selected to avoid confusion.

Providing accurate and meaningful reports from the research files generally requires the “linking” of the 2005 Entities and Test Data tables. Additional efforts might include linking to the “lookup” tables discussed above. Working with these tables requires an understanding of “relational” data tables and their manipulation.

 

California Department of Education

©2014 California Department of Education
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