Change Text Size: Normal TextMedium TextLarge Text
California Department of EducationA logo depicting elements of public education. A globe, a student at school, a computer lab, and a school bus

About STAR 2008

Program Background  |  STAR Reports

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 STAR Program. These tests were first administered to students in grades two through eleven in California public schools during spring 1998. They 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, with the following exceptions:

  • 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 STAR 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 the Stanford 9 and the Stanford 9 Augmentation/California Standards Tests (CSTs). School districts were given the option of also testing Spanish-speaking English learners enrolled in California public schools 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 content standards. These questions, initially referred to as the Stanford 9 Augmentation, were administered for the first time during spring 1999. Students received CST scores based on questions selected from the Stanford 9 tests and the California-specific questions. The CSTs then evolved during the next several years.

The purpose of the CSTs is to determine students’ achievement of the California content standards for each grade or course. Students’ scores are compared to preset criteria to determine whether 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 STAR 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 even with modifications. The CAPA assesses the California English–language arts, mathematics, and science content standards that were identified as appropriate for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The CAPA was first administered during spring 2003.

In August 2004 the Governor signed legislation reauthorizing the STAR Program through 2011. The reauthorized program reduced the CAT/6 Survey to grades three and seven.

During 2005 the State Board of Education designated the Aprenda: La prueba de logros en español, Tercera edición (Aprenda 3) to replace the SABE/2 as the designated primary language test (DPLT) for the STAR Program. In 2006 Spanish-speaking English learners who were receiving instruction in Spanish were required to take the DPLT, as were Spanish-speaking English learners who had been enrolled in school in the United States less than 12 months when testing began. School districts had the option of administering the Aprenda 3 to Spanish-speaking English learners who had been enrolled in school in the United States 12 months or more who were not receiving instruction in Spanish. The change came about through new state law that became effective on January 1, 2006.

Senate Bill 1448, which reauthorized the STAR Program, included the development of assessments for reading/language arts and mathematics in the state’s dominant primary language. The legislation required that the assessments be aligned to the California academic content standards. The Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) will replace the DPLT as it is developed. The STS is required for the same population of students who take the DPLT. The STS was first administered in the spring of 2007 to students in grades two through four. Students taking the STS are also required to take the CSTs and the CAT/6 Survey.

In April 2007 the United States Department of Education enacted regulations for an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards. In response to the federal regulations, CDE is developing an alternate assessment of the California content standards based on modified achievement standards for children with an IEP who meet the eligibility criteria adopted by the State Board of Education. The new test, the California Modified Assessment (CMA), includes assessments for English–language arts, mathematics, and science. Eligible students may take either the CST or the CMA in a subject area. For example, a fifth grade student may take the CST for English–language arts and take the CMA for mathematics and science. The CMA was administered for the first time in 2008 in grades three through five. CMA tests for additional grades will be included as they are developed.

The 2008 STAR Program included six components:

  • California Standards Tests
  • California Modified Assessment—Grades three through five
  • California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey—Grades three and seven
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment
  • Standards-based Tests in Spanish—Grades two through seven
  • Aprenda: La prueba de logros en español, Tercera edición—Grades eight through eleven

The CSTs are a major component of California’s accountability system for schools and school 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 whether elementary and middle schools are making adequate yearly progress (AYP) in helping all students become proficient on the California content standards, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Schools use CST results to identify high school seniors eligible for the California Golden State Seal Merit Diploma. The eligibility requirements for the diploma are posted at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/eligibility.asp.

Milestones for the STAR Program

  • 2000
      Stand-alone mathematics CSTs that used no Stanford 9 questions were developed for grades 8 through 11
 
  • 2001
      Stand-alone history–social science and science CSTs were developed and administered in grades 9 through 11.
The writing component was added to the grade 4 and grade 7 English–Language Arts CSTs.
Performance levels reported for English–Language Arts CSTs.
 
  • 2002
      Performance levels were reported for all CSTs.
The grade 4 and grade 7 writing components were combined with the multiple-choice components to produce the English–Language Arts CST scores.
 
  • 2003
      Grade 9 History–Social Science CST was moved to grade 8.
All CSTs were administered as stand-alone tests.
CAPA was first administered.
 
  • 2004
      Grade 5 Science CST was added.
 
  • 2006
      Grade 8 Science and Grade 10 Life Science CSTs were added.
 
  • 2007
      Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS) in reading/language arts and mathematics for grades 2 through 4 were added.
Students in grade 7 were allowed to take the Algebra I CST if they had completed the course.
Students in grades 9 through 11 were allowed to take the CST for world history if they had completed the course.
  • 2008
      California Modified Assessment (CMA) for grades 3 through 5 were added for English–language arts, mathematics and science (grade 5 only).
STS in reading/language arts and mathematics for grades 5 through 7 were added.
CAPA science test became operational.