State Testing

These tests reflect the exciting changes taking place in California classrooms. Instead of being asked to merely pick out multiple-choice answers, students are being tested on their ability to reason and think. They must draw logical conclusions and cite evidence from what they have read, and they must solve real-world math problems. And now, like an academic check-up, these tests will give parents, teachers, and schools the feedback they need to help students succeed.State Superintendent Tom Torlakson

Endorsed by the University of California, the California State University system and California Community Colleges, the Common Core State Standards outline what students should know and be able to do in reading and mathematics from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

These standards are aligned with the knowledge and skills deemed critical for college and career success, are benchmarked to the standards of the world’s top-performing countries and mark the first time that states have shared a common set of expectations for the nation’s K-12 students.

To explore further, and to learn how the Common Core was developed, click here.

A new testing system built with teachers help and guidance

Teachers want to know what students know so they can adjust instruction. Like class assignments and report cards, tests provide one more way to assess student progress. Because the things we want students to know and be able to do have changed, our tests must change as well.

This spring, students will take part in the first statewide administration of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) for students in grades 3-8 and 11 for the 2014-15 school year. These computer-based tests will replace the former paper-based, multiple-choice assessments in English/language arts and math.

The tests are an academic check-up, designed to give teachers the feedback they need to improve instruction and the tools to improve teaching and learning. The assessments will use computer adaptive technology to provide more accurate information about student performance. And because the tests are taken online, information will be available to students, parents, teachers, schools and school districts on a timely basis so it can be used to help students learn.


The new tests are too fundamentally different from the old exams to make any reliable comparisons between old scores and new. Rather, this year’s results will establish a baseline for the progress we expect students to make over time.

Based on trial runs of some test questions in California and other states, many if not most students will need to make significant progress to reach the standards set for math and literacy that accompany college and career readiness.

No student, parent or teacher should be discouraged by baseline scores, which will not be used to determine whether a student moves on to the next grade. Rather, the scores will represent an opportunity to focus on the needs of students and support teachers and schools in their work.

The Classroom in the Common Core arena.

With the implementation of Common Core, hands-on activities and collaborative exercises will be much more prevalent, and English students will see a shift toward nonfiction texts. Media skills will be integrated into everyday lessons, writing will be shared with outside audiences and next-generation assessments will evaluate higher order processes.

Math classes will teach fewer concepts, but they will reach new depths in exploring those concepts. Students will be challenged with more real-world applications and fewer theoretical equations, and there will be a greater emphasis on learning the process rather than merely providing the correct answer.

Who Supports Common Core Standards?

  • University of California
  • California State University
  • California Community Colleges
  • Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities
  • California School Boards Association (CSBA)
  • Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)
  • California Teachers Association (CTA)
  • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA)
  • California Parent Teacher Association (PTA)