State Testing Returns

Computers being pulled up inside the library (Photo: Alexa Rios, The Puma Prensa)

by Alexa Rios, staff writer

Due to school returning to in-person learning full time, both the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) and the California Science Test (CAST) will also be returning.
The CAASPP will take place from April 4 to April 14, and the CAST test will be from April 18 to April 22. Juniors will be taking both tests, but seniors only have to take the CAST. Test administration will also create changes in the schedules: During the testing weeks, there will be no advocacy.
The CAASPP test covers both English and math, and the CAST is only science. “Normally, only juniors take the science, but because the science test didn’t happen [last year], the State of California determined that all students need to take the CAST before they graduate,” said Maria Carrillo High School Vice Principal Amy Wiese. These tests will be composed of material that students have learned about throughout their high school career. Some seniors might already have taken what Weise calls a “CAASPP interim test that was optional,” and “the district allowed that to count for last year’s CAASPP, so seniors don’t have to take it again.”
The math portion of the CAASPPwill be in students’ social studies class, the English portion will be in English classes and the CAST will take place in upper-level science classes. Both tests are going to be two hours long, but if students do not finish, Wiese will be scheduling time for students to finish up the testing in the library. Students are also given the chance to opt out of the testing if their parent or guardian notifies the school ahead of time.
Although the school is required to administer these tests to every student before graduation, scores do not get passed on to colleges. Results from these tests are used to verify that schools are teaching the material required by the state’s current standards. These tests also help the school figure out where they need to put their resources to support students based on the subjects that students are struggling in, according to Wiese.
Besides trying to evaluate student progress, taking these tests lets the California State Board of Education determine if the money they are spending is going according to plan. Wiese said, “The higher powers that are at the state level want to make sure that the money that they’re spending on education is doing what it’s supposed to do.”
While only juniors and seniors are taking these tests, underclassmen will still have to deal with the adjusted schedule–two hour blocks and no advocacy for the two weeks of testing. Because many students depend on advocacy to finish up their work, the school will inform the juniors and seniors ahead of time. Junior Monica Perez said, “I feel really nervous,” adding, “I do my homework in advo, and it sucks that there’s no advo.” Senior Benjamin Wainer said, “I normally do really well on tests so these don’t worry me.” Wainer was indifferent to having to take the test saying, “It’s better than doing another worksheet.”
The return of these tests also raises the question: Will students have to deal with homework during testing? Junior-level English teacher Maddie Doyle said, “My classes are self-paced. I’ll assign things the week before, and it will be due the week before testing.” Math teacher Margaret Bradylong, who has classes of mostly seniors and a few juniors, said, “We will be prepping for an AP test, so we will keep going…The workloads will be doable.” While testing may be stressful for some students, teachers are expected to let students know what will be expected of them workload-wise ahead of time.
Wiese ended by saying, “It’s been hard to learn throughout COVID, I am not worried about the test scores. I want kids to be learning now in class.”

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