Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on California’s K-12 Schools

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Standardized Tests in California

Learn more about the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress ( CAASPP) System and Smarter Balanced tests.


In 2014, California's introduced a new assessment system, aligned to the state's Common Core State Standards. Known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, this system includes tests for mathematics and English language arts /literacy, which are also referred to as the Smarter Balanced assessments.

The new Smarter Balanced tests were first administered in 2015 to students in grades 3 - 8 and 11 and are administered each spring to all student except those whose Individualized Education Plan (IEP) requires the student take an alternative assessment, those whose parents opt out, and to English learners who are in their first 12 months of attending a school in the United States.

Unlike the pencil-and-paper tests under California’s former Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system, the CAASPP Smarter Balanced tests are taken on a computer and are adaptive. Adaptive means the test will become more or less difficult depending on whether a student answers the previous question correctly or incorrectly. If a student answers incorrectly, or doesn’t answer a question, the next question will be less difficult.

While the previous California tests contained only multiple-choice questions, some of the Smarter Balanced test questions require students to briefly explain their thinking about how they got their answers. Questions are intended to measure a student’s problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Students receive an overall “scale” score somewhere between 2114 and 2795 for English language arts/literacy and between 2189 and 2862 in math. (Score ranges vary slightly based on grade level.) These scale scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met.

What the achievement levels signify

Level 4: Standard exceeded - the student has surpassed the achievement standard and demonstrates advanced progress toward mastering the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in future coursework. In grades 6-8 and 11, this achievement level also indicates that a student has demonstrated advanced progress toward college readiness after graduation.

Level 3: Standard met - the student has made progress and met the achievement standard for his/her grade level. The student appears ready for future coursework. In grades 6-8 and 11, this achievement level indicates that the student is on track toward mastering skills and knowledge needed to be ready for college after graduation.

Level 2: Standard nearly met - the student is close to meeting the achievement standard and may need further development to demonstrate skills and knowledge required for future coursework. In grades 6-8 and 11, a score in this range indicates further development may be needed to succeed in entry-level college courses after graduation.

Level 1: Standard not met - the student did not meet the grade-level achievement standard and must improve substantially to demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in future coursework. In grades 6-8 and 11, a score in this range indicates the student needs to improve substantially to be ready for college after graduation.

Students who do not answer a minimum number questions in each subject area of the tests receive the minimum scores possible. Performance on the Smarter Balanced tests does not affect the student's grade in school. Test results for individual students are only available to parents/guardians and can be obtained from the school or school district.

Viewing test results on Ed-Data

You can view CAASPP test results at the school, district, county and state level in the Student Performance section of the Ed-Data website. Currently, information is available for all students, English learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and migrant students. We are working to add additional data by race/ethnicity, gender and more.

If you would like to be informed when we add data or functionality to Ed-Data, please join our email list using the Subscribe option on the lower right corner of any page. 

For more information about California's new testing system, please see the links in the Learn More section above. 

Click here to go to the state-level CAASPP graphs on Ed-Data. From there you can navigate to the county, district, or school of your choice.