If you are noticing that your student has a new spring in his/her step this week, chances are it’s because your student has just finished, or is about to finish, the marathon of testing that has consumed many of his/her days at school this season.

Kudos to your student for getting past another grueling month of the CAASPP!

Have no idea to what we are referring? Do not worry – in less than two minutes (half that time, if you skip every other word), you will become well-versed on the exam that has diverted hours of your student’s time and energy at school.

1. What is the CAASPP?

Although your student may secretly believe that CAASPP stands for Crazy, Annoying, and Super Painful Program, that is not its official title (we double-checked).

CAASPP is an acronym for “California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress,” and is also referred to as “Smarter Balanced Assessments,” in homage to the originators of this exam (a word to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: given that you test for proper grammar in your exams, please note that a comma is technically needed between “Smarter” and “Balanced.” Just saying.).

Basically, the CAASPP is an annual rite of passage that students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 must take every spring. As an aside, a pilot science test was introduced this year for students in grade 10, and those students in grades 5 and 8 got to double their pleasure and double their fun by having to take both exams. So lucky!

2. What does the CAASPP Measure?

This exam tests your student’s level of mastery of California’s Common Core standards at his/her grade level in an effort to predict future readiness for college (and by college-ready, we mean that they are academically prepared for the higher level courses, not that they are able to do their own laundry or otherwise navigate dorm life without your help).

The computer-based test is offered through a battery of online questions in ELA (English Language Arts/ Literacy) and mathematics. A student will spend a total of seven to eight hours in CAASPP testing, which is spread out over the course of a number of weeks at the district’s and school’s discretion.

The test questions are progressively adaptive to a student’s ability level, with correct answers leading to progressively more challenging questions, and incorrect answers leading to less difficult questions.

So if your student complains that he/she was tested on topics that were not covered in class, either (a) your student was daydreaming about the new tricks to try on his/her fidget spinner while the teacher was giving a lesson (which is bad) or (b) your student is being tested on concepts that are beyond his/her grade level (which is good).

And now, to the burning question of the day …

3. How Will CAASPP Results Impact My Student?

Short answer: It won’t. Feel free to stop reading this article now.

Your student’s CAASPP scores, which will be mailed to you in the summer or fall, will highlight how well your student performed in the tested categories.

However, these test scores will not be used to grade students, and will not be used to evaluate teachers. The results are merely used to provide guidance to schools on how they can better prepare students to be college-ready upon graduation.

You can see how your student’s school fared on the exam compared to other schools in the same and other districts by checking out www.caaspp.cde.ca.gov. Here, you can view the breakdown of achievement levels, as measured by the relative percentage of students who exceeded, met, nearly met, and did not meet their respective grade level standards.

If your student excels on the CAASPP, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your student is mastering the Common Core standards that are being taught at his/her grade level. Whew!

In the event that your student does not do as well on the CAASPP as he/she would like, the results may highlight some areas in which your student may need additional help.

While these scores will not impact your student’s grades, you may want to enlist the help of the academic resources at your school and/ or consider individualized tutoring to help your student get back on track for the new school year.

Bottom Line.

You can be that cool, supportive parent who says encouraging things like “As long as you tried your best, dear, that is the only thing that matters” and “It’s really your effort, and not the scores, that are important to us.” And actually say that with a straight face. You’re welcome.

To better grasp the CAASPP, please visit www.caaspp.org and www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/.

To learn more about individualized, in-person or Skype tutoring for your student, please visit www.myprivateprofessor.com. Thank you!