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California STAR Program Background

The governor signed Senate Bill 376 authorizing the STAR Program in October 1997. The State Board of Education, as required by statute, designated the Stanford 9 as the achievement test for the program. This test was first administered to all California students during spring 1998. The Stanford 9 is a nationally norm-referenced multiple-choice achievement test. School districts are required to administer the test to all students in grades 2 - 11, except for:

  • Students receiving special education services with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that specify that the students are to have an alternate assessment completed rather than taking the STAR Program tests, and
  • Students whose parents or guardians submit written requests to exempt the students.

Students in grades 2 - 11 are tested in reading, language (written expression) and mathematics. Students in grades 2 - 8 are also tested in spelling, and students in grades 9 - 11 are tested in science and social science. The tests are administered to all students during a period that includes the 10 instructional days before and 10 instructional days after the day on which 85% of each school, program or track's instructional year is completed.

Beginning in 1999, additional test items in language arts and mathematics were added to the STAR Program. These additional items were initially referred to as the Stanford Augmentation and are now known as the California Standards Tests. During 2001, three additional California Standards Tests were added to the program:

  • Grade 4 and 7 writing tests,
  • Grade 9 - 11 end-of-course science tests, and
  • Grade 9 - 11 history-social science tests.

The purpose of the California Standards Tests is to determine how well students are learning the skills and knowledge required by the California Academic Content Standards for each grade or course. The purpose of the Stanford 9 is to determine the achievement of each student compared to a national sample of students tested in the same grade at the same time of the school year.  


California Department of Education

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