The STAR is falling

The STAR is falling

Katrina Flores , Staff Writer

Throughout the last few years, students have taken the statewide standardized test, also known as the STAR test. This year, however, a new test has been implemented in California, called the CAASPP.

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, CAASPP, is an adaptive interactive exam that replaces the STAR that will be taken online. Unlike any tests that students have probably ever taken before, this new exam will be different because each question depends on whether you got the previous one right or wrong.

The only class that will be taking the CAASPP is the junior class. There has not been a determined timetable as to when all the students will be taking it, but as of now, freshman and sophomores will continue to take practice tests so they’re comfortable with the new formatting of online testing.

Many schools don’t have the luxury of having enough computers for even their junior class to take the test, so before all 2300 students jump in and start testing, the School Board of Education wants to see how one class does across the state and give the chance for other schools to obtain more equipment, such as computers.

Many kids may freak out when they find out that scantron tests that they are used to are slowly declining since that is what they have been using since they were young, but Monte Vista has staff and administration that are willing to help every student have success on this new testing material.

Assistant Principal, John-Paul Ballou, has come up with a plan to prepare everyone for the CAASPP. Since there will be a big learning curve as students and teachers adjust to this new format, he has decided to do something that most schools are not: running everyone through various practice tests through a link that is posted on the Schoolloop homepage.

“We’re running everybody through the practice through your math classes,” Ballou said. “All the juniors will run through it and they will get a chance to mess with the practice version. I don’t think a lot of schools have thought that far ahead. We’re making sure that everybody sees the test before they take it.”

Mr. Ballou finds that this preparation will not only help students in high school, but in the latter part of their education, such as in college.

“The more kids here that can be successful during their junior year and do really well on the EAP and CAASPP are going to find themselves in a better position for college,” Ballou said.

Early Assessment Program, or EAP, is also included in this testing. This program provides students with an indicator whether they will be prepared for English and math courses in college. Students will not know which questions are from EAP. If a student does well on this portion, they will not have to take additional remedial classes in college. Doing well on the EAP questions is a great benefit since students will not have to take additional entrance exams.

If students are successful in high school, Ballou claims that their success will help with college acceptance. This success will also save families a lot of money since their students won’t have to take remedial classes in college.

However with this new testing come some disadvantages. For example in the first year of the CAASPP, there may be a lack of understanding from the the teachers. Most will need to adjust to teaching new preparatory skills in their classes.

“Students have grown up knowing what a scantron test is and learning how to prep for that,” Ballou said. “As the test becomes more saturated and you’re seeing it at younger ages, students are going to come more prepared to take it. But in the first couple years, it’s going to be a learning curve such as manipulating the mouse or the trackpad.”

The administration is trying to minimize those disadvantages, but have discovered that the CAASPP can be much more convenient for everyone.

“The advantages of the test are that it can be adapted,” Ballou said. “It can be a more accurate assessment of students’ abilities. Also the types of questions are very different. In a bubble scantron, students have to decide whether the question is right or wrong, but on the CAASPP, the questions are more interactive. Students will have to come up with their own answer without the help of what they are use to: four multiple choice answers.

Assistant Principal, Gary Peterson also agrees that they are many benefits with the new testing.

“The potential benefit to doing it online is that someone won’t have to hand grade it and you get faster results,” Peterson said. I would say it’s probably a smart decision. The cost alone to print all the scantrons and  test forms and if you’re doing it on the computer there’s no cost.”

This new CAASPP allows a student to show what they really know in an interactive setting. STAR tests are now history and the new generation of technology has brought us online testing.