Common Core — An Explanation of Testing

1. Grade Levels Tested — In the past, students in grades 2–11 were tested on the California Standards Tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The new assessments are given in grades 3–8 and 11.

2. Computer Based –The assessments were taken online only. There were no paper and pencil versions of the tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

3. Computer Adaptive — On the old multiple choice tests, every student got the same set of questions. With computer adaptive testing, the assessment is customized to each student. During testing, the difficulty of questions changes based on student responses. If a student answered a question correctly, the next question is more challenging. If a student answers a question wrong, the next question is easier. Computer adaptive testing provides more precise information about achievement.

4. Questions in Variety of Formats — Unlike the old multiple choice tests where choices were provided for students, the new tests ask students to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, such as explaining their solutions or providing rationales in their writing. Students are asked to use graphing skills or listen to an audio recording and then respond to questions about what they heard. Figure 1 below provides an example of the difference between the old test and new test.