Yes, a wide variety of test-taking aids and resources are available to students, both with and without disabilities, in the CAASPP testing program. Readers of this question and answer should review Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations sections 854.1 through 854.4 for a more comprehensive list of these aids and resources and discussion of the information summarized below.
All children, including children with disabilities, who are taking CAASPP tests have available to them certain “universal tools” to assist them in taking these tests. Universal tools can be either embedded or non-embedded. “Embedded” means these resources are part of the test delivery system for the computer-based CAASPP tests. “Non-embedded” means these resources are not part of the test delivery system but would be provided for the student by the school district. “Universal tools” means those things which are available to any student who is taking the CAASPP whether he/she has a disability or not and whether any educator or team of educators has requested them for the student or not. Universal tools include things like taking breaks, using a dictionary for writing tests or a glossary for reading tests, and using a calculator for certain parts of the math tests in grades 6, 8, and 11.
All children, including children with disabilities who are taking CAASPP tests also have available to them certain “designated supports” for taking CAASPP tests. “Designated supports” can also be embedded or non-embedded. Designated supports include such things as color contrast or color overlay or magnification for reading, and amplification or noise buffers for listening. The difference between “designated supports” and “universal tools” is that designated supports must be determined necessary by an educator for a child who does not have a disability. For children with disabilities, the designated supports must be specified in the Section 504 plan or IEP of a child with a disability in order for them to be used.
In addition to all of the above, children with disabilities (children who have IEPs or Section 504 plans) may also use “accommodations” in CAASPP testing. “Accommodations” are also either “embedded” or “non-embedded” testing aids and resources. In order for a student with a disability to use an accommodation in this testing process, the accommodation must be specified in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. Accommodations include such things as:
- alternative response options for reading, writing, and listening;
- Braille for paper-pencil tests;
- large-print version of a paper-pencil test;
- print on demand for reading, writing, and listening;
- read aloud for English Language Arts reading passages;
- scribes for writing;
- speech-to-text for reading, writing, and listening;
- word prediction for reading writing, and listening.
The embedded and non-embedded universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations are available on all areas (English Language Arts, Math, and Science) of the CAASPP tests. [5 C.C.R. Sec. 854.1 – 854.3.] They are also available to students who take the Spanish version of CAASPP achievement tests; see Q&A 7 below.