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About STAR 2003

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The 2003 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program included four components:

  • California Standards Tests (CST)
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)
  • California Achievement Test (CAT/6)
  • Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, 2nd Edition (SABE/2).

California Standards Tests
The California Standards Tests in English-language arts, mathematics, science, and history-social science are administered only to students in California public schools. Except for a writing component that is administered as part of the grade 4 and 7 English-language arts tests, all questions are multiple choice. These tests were developed specifically to assess students' performance on California's Academic Content Standards. The State Board of Education adopted these standards that specify what all California children are expected to know and be able to do in each grade or course. The 2003 standards tests were required for students who were enrolled in the following grades/courses at the time of testing or who had completed a course during the 2002-2003 school year, including 2002 summer school.

All Students in Grades 2 - 11 English Language Arts
All Students in Grades 2 - 9 Mathematics
Grade 8 - 11 students who completed Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year Integrated Math
Grade 8 and 9 students who had not completed one of the above math courses General Mathematics
Grade 9 & 10 students who completed Algebra II or 3rd Year Integrated Math during the previous grade and grade-11 students who completed Algebra II or 3rd Year Integrated Math anytime before testing including during the 2002-03 school year High School Summative Mathematics
All Students in Grades 8, 10 & 11 History-Social Science
Grade 9 - 11 students who completed Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Integrated Science Courses

English Language Arts
The grade 2 and 3 California English-language arts standards tests each have 65 questions. The grade 4 and 7 tests each have 83 points comprised of 75 multiple-choice questions and an 8 point writing assessment. The tests for grades 5, 6, and 8 through 11 each have 75 questions. During 2003, the grade 4 and 7 California English Language Arts Standards Test included a writing sample in addition to the multiple-choice questions. For this part of the test students were required to write the first draft of an essay for an assigned topic. Grade 4 students wrote a narrative essay. Grade 7 students read a short story and wrote an essay discussing character development and the author’s theme. The types of writing used for the test change from year to year and are based on California's Writing Application Content Standards. Grade 4 students may be required to write a narrative, a summary of information or a response to literature. Grade 7 students may be required to write a fictional or autobiographical narrative, a response to literature, a persuasive essay, or a summary of information. Two readers using a 4 point scoring guide score the students’ papers independently. The two readers' scores are added to the 75 multiple choice questions, resulting in a maximum score of 83 points for these two grades.

The California Mathematics Standards Tests are grade specific for grades 2 through 7. Each of these tests has 65 standards based questions. The California Mathematics Standards Tests for grades 8 through 11 also have 65 standards based questions.

  • All students in grades 8 and 9 who had not yet completed or were not enrolled in discipline specific, standards based math courses or who were enrolled in the first year of a two year Algebra I course were required to take a General Math Test based on California’s Math Standards for grades 6 and 7.
  • Students in grades 8 through 11 who had completed or were enrolled in discipline specific standards based math courses took California Mathematics Standards Tests in either Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year Integrated Mathematics.
  • Students in grades 9 & 10 who completed Algebra II or 3rd Year Integrated Mathematics during a previous school year and grade 11 students who completed one of these two courses anytime prior to the beginning of testing were required to take the California High School Summative Mathematics Standards Test.

History-Social Science
Students in grades 8, 10, and 11 took California History-Social Science Standards Tests. The grade 8 test had 75 multiple-choice questions and the grade 10 and 11 tests each had 60 multiple-choice questions. These tests assess:  

  • Grade 8--a cumulative test of the world history standards for grade 6 (Ancient Civilizations) and grade 7 (Medieval and Early Modern Times) and grade 8 United States History and Geography: Growth and Conflict
  • Grade 10--World History, Culture, and Geography: The Modern World
  • Grade 11--United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century

The science tests for grades 9 - 11 were based on course-specific standards. Only grade 9 - 11 students who were enrolled in or completed a standards-based laboratory-based science course took a test. The tests were administered for the following standards-based courses:

  • Earth Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Integrated Science 1, 2, 3 and 4 (4 test forms, each assessing specific standards for biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics)

Teachers of integrated science courses were to use the test blueprints and select the Integrated Science Test that most closely matched their course content. The blueprints for the four integrated science tests were published during October 2002. In addition to using the blueprints to select the most appropriate test to administer during spring 2003, teachers of integrated science courses were asked to begin aligning their course content with one or more of the test blueprints as appropriate.

The California Standards Test scores from STAR are used for calculating each school’s Academic Performance Index (API). These tests comprise 80% of the weight for grade 2 – 8 API calculations and 73% of the weight for grade 9 – 11 API calculations. Only the results of the California English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards Tests are used to determine the progress elementary and middle schools are making toward meeting the federal No Child Left Behind requirement of having all students demonstrate proficiency on the state’s academic content standards.

For further information about the California Standards Test scores, go to About the STAR Internet Scores.

California Alternate Performance Assessment

The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) was administered as part of the STAR Program for the first time during spring 2003. Since all students in grades 2 – 11 are required to participate in the STAR Program, the CAPA was developed to assess students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the California Standards Tests (CSTs), even with accommodations or modifications. Alternate assessments are required by two federal laws, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The California Education Code was amended in January 2003 to require students with disabilities to participate in the STAR Program by taking the California Standards Tests and the CAT/6 with or without accommodations or modifications or by taking an alternate assessment.

The CAPA is an individually administered performance assessment with all tasks linked to California’s English Language Arts and Mathematics Academic Content Standards. Special educators in California identified subsets of standards that are appropriate for students with moderate to severe disabilities.

The CAPA is organized into five levels, representing specific grade spans. Most students eligible for the CAPA take the level corresponding to their grade placement. These students are expected to move through the CAPA levels as they progress in age. Some students with complex, profound disabilities may be eligible for Level I. These students remain in Level I and are not expected to move through the CAPA levels.

  • Level 1  
Students in grades 2-11 (those with the most complex, profound disabilities)
  • Level 2
Students in grades 2 and 3
  • Level 3
Students in grades 4 and 5
  • Level 4
Students in grades 6 – 8
  • Level 5
Students in grades 9 – 11

Students taking the CAPA were given eight (8) tasks to complete for each of the two content areas. A trained certificated or licensed examiner (usually the student's teacher) individually administered the assessment. The examiner scored the assessment by observing the student’s response and recording the student’s score using a specific scoring guide. If needed, the examiner could adapt the assessment tasks to make them accessible for students with a wide range of disabilities. Adaptations might have included signing the directions for a student with a hearing impairment or providing tactile materials for a student with a visual impairment.

CAPA scores are reported as one of five performance levels from advanced to far below basic. While the CAPA performance levels have the same labels as those used for the CSTs, they are defined differently and are based on a different scaled score range.

California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey
In April 2002, the State Board of Education designated the California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6) published by CTB/McGraw-Hill to replace the Stanford Achievement Test, ninth edition (Stanford 9) as the national norm-referenced test for the STAR Program. Like the Stanford 9, the CAT/6 is a national norm-referenced achievement test, and the test questions and scoring are the same from year to year. The Stanford 9 was first administered to all California students during spring 1998. Its last administration was in spring 2002. The CAT/6 surveys are shorter than the Stanford 9 and reduce the testing time for the norm-referenced portion of the STAR program.

Students in grades 2 - 11 are tested in reading, language and mathematics. Students in grades 2 - 8 are also tested in spelling, and students in grades 9 - 11 are tested in science. The purpose of administering the CAT/6 is to determine how well each California student is achieving academically compared to a national sample of students tested in the same grade at the same time of the school year.

Since the CAT/6 and the Stanford 9 are published by two different companies, were developed at different times, and use different national groups of students as the comparison groups, users of the STAR data should make no direct comparisons between the 2002 Stanford 9 and the 2003 CAT/6 scores.

Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, 2nd Edition (SABE/2)
The SABE/2, published by CTB/McGraw-Hill is a nationally norm-referenced achievement test in Spanish. The test battery includes tests of Spanish reading, language, and spelling, as well as mathematics tests in Spanish. Spanish-speaking English learners (limited-English proficient students) who had been enrolled in California public schools less than 12 months when testing began were required to take the SABE/2 in addition to the California Standards and CAT/6 Tests. Districts had the option of administering the test to Spanish-speaking English learners who had been in California public schools 12 months or more.

California Department of Education

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