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 2009

Program Background  |  STAR Reports

The 2009 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program included four components:

  • California Standards Tests
  • California Modified Assessment
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment
  • Standards-based Tests in Spanish

California Standards Tests (CSTs)

The CSTs for 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 four and grade seven English–language arts tests, all questions are multiple-choice. These tests were developed specifically to assess students' knowledge of the California content standards. The State Board of Education adopted these standards, which specify what all children in California are expected to know and be able to do in each grade or course. The 2009 CSTs 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 2008–09 school year, including 2008 summer school.

CST scores are used for calculating each school’s Academic Performance Index (API) and adequate yearly progress (AYP). Information about the API and AYP is posted at

For further information about the CST scores, go to Term and Score Explanations.

English–Language Arts
The California English–Language Arts Standards Tests were administered by grade to students in grades two through eleven.

  • Grades two and three
    - 65 multiple-choice questions
  • Grades four through eleven
    - 75 multiple-choice questions
    - Additional 8 points for writing test in grades four and seven

The California Mathematics Standards Tests were administered by grade to students in grades two through six. All California Mathematics Standards Tests have 65 multiple-choice questions.

Students in grade seven took either the grade seven math test or the Algebra I test.

Mathematics tests for grades eight through eleven included:

  • General Mathematics (grades eight and nine only)
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Integrated Mathematics 1
  • Integrated Mathematics 2
  • Integrated Mathematics 3
  • Summative High School Mathematics (grades nine through eleven only)

The California Science Standards Tests were administered by grade to students in grades five, eight, and ten. All California Science Standards Tests have 60 multiple-choice questions.

  • Grade five—Covers grades four and five science content standards
  • Grade eight—Covers grade eight science content standards
  • Grade ten—Covers middle school life science and high school biology content standards

Students in grades nine through eleven who completed a standards-based science course took one of the following CSTs:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Physics
  • Integrated/Coordinated Science 1
  • Integrated/Coordinated Science 2
  • Integrated/Coordinated Science 3
  • Integrated/Coordinated Science 4

Students in grade ten who completed a standards-based science course took one of the tests listed above in addition to taking the CST for Life Science (Grade 10).

History–Social Science
The history–social science CSTs were administered by grade to students in grades eight and eleven. These tests are:

  • Grade 8 (75 multiple-choice questions)—A cumulative test of standards from grade six (World History and Geography: Ancient Civilizations), grade seven (World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern Times), and grade eight (United States History and Geography: Growth and Conflict)
  • Grade 11 (60 multiple-choice questions)—United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century

Students in grades nine through eleven who completed a standards-based world history course took the following test.

  • World History, Culture and Geography: The Modern World (60 multiple-choice questions)

California Modified Assessment (CMA)

The CMA was administered to eligible students in grades three through eight. The CMA is a standards-based test for students with an individualized education program who meet the eligibility criteria adopted by the State Board of Education. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 calls for a range of assessments appropriate to students' abilities. The CMA provides an appropriate assessment for a small percentage of students allowing them to demonstrate their knowledge of skills in the California academic content standards for English–language arts (ELA) (grades three through eight only), mathematics (grades three through seven), and science (grades five and eight only). 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 ELA and take the CMA for mathematics and science. Scale scores and performance levels are available only for CMA results for grades three through five in 2009. For 2009, CMA results for grades six through eight are reported as percent correct. Scale scores and performance levels will be available for students in grades six through eight beginning in 2010.

California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)

Students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the CSTs even with modifications participated in the STAR Program by taking the CAPA. The CAPA is an individually administered performance assessment with all tasks linked to the California English–Language arts, mathematics, and science content standards.

The CAPA is organized into five levels, representing specific grade spans. Most students eligible for the CAPA take the level corresponding to their enrollment grade.

  • Level I  
Students in grades two through eleven (students with the most significant cognitive disabilities)
  • Level II
Students in grades two and three
  • Level III
Students in grades four and five
  • Level IV
Students in grades six through eight
  • Level V
Students in grades nine through eleven

Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS)

The STS consists of multiple-choice tests that assess reading/language arts and mathematics in Spanish. The Spanish-speaking English learners in grades two through eleven who either were receiving instruction in Spanish or had been enrolled in school in the United States for less than 12 months when testing began were required to take the STS in addition to taking the CST and/or CMA. School districts had the option of administering the STS to Spanish-speaking English learners who had been enrolled in school in the United States for 12 months or more and were not receiving instruction in Spanish.