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What is the California Alternate Assessment (CAA)?

What is the California Alternate Assessment (CAA)?

Published: Aug. 2, 2023

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), federal legislation passed in 2015, requires that all public schools in the country administer statewide assessments. There are typically two options for students: (1) the regular statewide assessments and (2) the alternate state assessments. Each state has its own testing system to meet that requirement.

In California, students with the most significant cognitive disabilities take the California Alternate Assessment (CAA).

Students take the online test each spring, starting in third grade, through to eighth grade. They take it once more in eleventh grade. As students answer questions correctly, the test asks progressively harder questions, so it can identify the student's skills across a wide range of levels.

While taking an alternate assessment doesn’t change the grade-level standards expected of the student, the standards are modified to California’s alternative achievement standards, which were developed specifically for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are using alternate assessments to be able to access the same California state standards as their peers without disabilities.

To learn more about the CAA, check out our article Statewide Assessments 101.

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