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About STAR 2005

Program Background  |  STAR Reports
Grades and Subjects Reported

Program Background

The governor signed Senate Bill 376 authorizing the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program in October 1997. The State Board of Education, as required by statute, designated the Stanford Achievement Test Series, Ninth Edition (Stanford 9) as the national norm-referenced achievement tests for the Program. These tests were first administered to students in grades two through eleven in California public schools during spring 1998 and were last administered as part of the STAR Program during spring 2002. School districts were required to administer the tests to all students in grades two through eleven except for:

  • Students who were receiving special education services with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that specified that the students were to have an alternate assessment, and
  • Students whose parents/guardians submitted written requests to exempt the students from testing.

Students in grades two through eleven were tested in reading, language, and mathematics. Students in grades two through eight were also tested in spelling, and students in grades nine through eleven were tested in science and social science. All questions on the tests were multiple choice. The purpose of the Stanford 9 was to compare each student’s achievement of general skills taught throughout the United States to the achievement of a national sample of students tested in the same grade at the same time of the school year.

In 1998, the State Board of Education designated the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, Second Edition (SABE/2) as the primary language test for the Program. Beginning in spring 1999, Spanish-speaking English learners who were enrolled in California public schools less than 12 months when testing began were required to take the SABE/2, as well as taking the Stanford 9 and the Stanford 9 Augmentation/California Standards Tests (CSTs). Districts were given the option of also testing Spanish-speaking English learners enrolled 12 months or more with the SABE/2.

During the 1998 – 99 school year, multiple-choice questions were developed specifically to assess the California English-Language Arts and Mathematics Academic Content Standards. These questions that were initially referred to as the Stanford 9 Augmentation were administered for the first time during spring 1999. Students received California Standards scores based on questions selected from the Stanford 9 tests and the California specific questions. The California Standards Tests (CSTs) then evolved during the next several years.

  • 2000
      Stand-alone mathematics CSTs that used no Stanford 9 questions developed for grades 8 – 11
  • 2001
      Stand-alone history-social science and science CSTs developed and administered in grades 9 – 11
Writing component added to the grade 4 and 7 English-Language Arts CSTs
Performance levels reported for English-Language Arts CSTs
  • 2002
      Performance levels reported for all CSTs
The grade 4 and 7 writing components combined with the multiple-choice components to produce the English-Language Arts CST scores
  • 2003
      Grade 9 history-social science CST moved to grade 8
All CSTs administered as stand-alone tests
  • 2004
      Grade 5 science CST added

The purpose of the CSTs is to determine students’ achievement of the California Academic Content Standards for each grade or course. Students’ scores are compared to preset criteria to determine if the students’ performance on the test is advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, or far below basic. The state target is for all students to score at the proficient and advanced levels.

The legislature reauthorized the STAR Program during 2002, and the State Board of Education selected the California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6 Survey) to replace the Stanford 9 as the national norm-referenced test for the Program beginning with the spring 2003 test administration. The State Board also authorized the development of the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), an individually administered assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities whose disabilities preclude them from taking the CSTs and CAT/6 Survey. The CAPA assesses a subset of the California English-Language Arts and Mathematics Content Standards that were identified as appropriate for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The CAPA was first administered during spring 2003.

The 2005 STAR Program included four components:

  • California Standards Tests (CSTs)
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)
  • California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6 Survey) - grades 3 and 7
  • Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, Second Edition (SABE/2)

The governor signed legislation reauthorizing the STAR Program through 2011 during August 2004. The reauthorized program reduced the CAT/6 Survey to grades three and seven. No other changes affected the spring 2005 administration.

The CSTs are a major component of California’s accountability system for schools and districts. CST and CAPA results are the major component used for calculating each school’s Academic Performance Index (API). These results are also used for determining if elementary and middle schools are making adequate yearly progress in helping all students become proficient on the state’s academic content standards as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. High school students may also use CST results to qualify for the California Golden State Seal Merit Diploma.



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