What are computer adaptive tests (CAT)?
Computer adaptive tests are customized to every student. When a student answers a question correctly, the next question will be a little more challenging. If a student answers a question incorrectly, the next question will be a little easier. As a result, this test format often shortens the length of the test and is much more accurate in measuring what a student knows than the old paper/pencil tests of the past.
What kinds of questions are on the test?
Computer adaptive questions come in a wide variety of formats including selected response in which students select an answer from a list of choices, constructed response in which students are presented with an open-ended question and must write an answer, fill-in-the-blank, and graphing. Students must also complete performance tasks for English/language arts, math, and science (grade five).
What are performance tasks?
Simply stated, performance tasks require students to put together all the pieces of their learning. They are extended activities that measure a student’s ability to integrate the knowledge and skills of multiple content standards. They measure a student’s depth of understanding as well as critical thinking and research skills which cannot be adequately assessed with computer adaptive test questions.
Do English Learners and students with special needs take these tests?
For the most part, the answer is yes. English Learners who are in their first 12 months of attending school in the United States are exempt from the English/language arts test but required to take the math test. Only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities take the California Alternate Assessment (CAA).
Are there any testing supports or accommodations for English Learners and students with special needs?
Yes. In fact, there are a variety of testing resources available to students. Universal tools, including the use of English glossaries and digital notepads as well as highlighting or striking text, marking questions for later review, and taking breaks, are available to all students. Designated supports, such as use of color contrast for text and background or customizing the size and color of the mouse pointer, are available to all students when determined appropriate by an educator or team of educators with parent/guardian and student input. Accommodations specified in a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan must be provided.