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California Accountability Model & Assessments

Measuring Progress

Our goal is to educate each child to their highest potential. To achieve this goal, teachers and staff use many measures throughout the school year and over multiple years to determine how students are learning, growing, and how our schools and district are meeting student needs.

Teachers use multiple measures every day to see how well students are growing academically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Teachers gauge students’ progress through classroom observation, performance on tasks, classroom assessments, and homework. We also use district and state assessments to look at student progress longitudinally during their years in Saratoga Union School District.

California's school/district accountability and continuous improvement system provides information about how local schools are meeting the needs of California’s diverse student population. Annually, data regarding SUSD student performance, attendance, discipline, and other areas are summarized in the California School Dashboard, School Accountability Report Cards (SARC), and Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA).

3rd-8th grade students participate in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) each spring. Students take either the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the California Alternate Assessment (IEP dependent). The Smarter Balanced Assessment System utilizes computer based adaptive tests and performance tasks that allow students to show what they know and are able to do. It is based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy (ELA), mathematics, and science (grades 5 and 8 only).

Students in grades 5th and 7th participate in physical fitness testing (PFT), known as the FITNESSGRAM. The test measures aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, strength and flexibility. The state goal of the test is to help students in starting life-long habits of regular physical activity. PFT takes place during the student's regular PE class sometime in late spring.

Our English Learners take the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC). This test is required for all new-to-public-California-schools students 

Learn more about these progress measures on the California Department of Education website:

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)

During late spring, SUSD students in grades 3rd through 8th participate in the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments which are part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. The tests:

  • Measure how well your child has mastered the skills and content in mathematics and English language arts at his or her grade level (grade 3-8). And in Science for grades 5 and 8.
  • Align with the instruction that takes place in the classroom everyday.
  • Match the learning goals of each grade level.
  • Assess critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving skills, which are needed for success in college and a 21st century career.

The assessments have different types of questions including traditional multiple-choice questions as well as sections that require students to explain their answers, show their work, and compose essays. The tests are computer adaptive which enables measurement across the full range of achievement.

General Education students will take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments (SBAC). Special Education students may take either the SBAC or the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) depending on their IEP. 5th and 8th graders also take the California Science Test (CAST).

For more information, visit the California Department of Education CAASPP website:

California School Dashboard

The California School Dashboard (Dashboard) is an online tool that shows how local educational agencies and schools are performing on the state and local indicators. The Dashboard is part of California's new school accountability system based on the 2013 Local Control Funding Formula. It is the next step in a series of major shifts in public education that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing and placed the focus on equity for all students.

The Dashboard features easy-to-read reports on multiple measures of school success, including test scores, graduation rates, English learner progress and suspension rates.  Users can search to see the reports for any local educational agency or school. The Dashboard was created to give parents and the public a better idea of what is happening in California schools and districts and to identify districts and schools that need extra help. 

Why the Dashboard?

The Dashboard is a key part of California's commitment to transparency and continuous improvement. California's future success depends on tapping into the potential of all students, so they graduate ready for college, careers and life. For schools to reach this goal, teachers, parents and the community need clear and useful measures of progress. As an accountability tool, the Dashboard will help the state identify schools (including charter schools) and districts needing targeted assistance.

In the past, accountability systems for districts and schools relied solely on test scores. But one test taken on one particular day doesn't provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed. Think of it this way: You can’t drive a car by only watching the speedometer. You also keep your eye on the road, check the mirrors, monitor the gas tank and pay attention if the engine light comes on. Similarly, the Dashboard provides information on different aspects of student performance, which will give a more complete picture of a school’s progress. The Dashboard also reports on growth to show a school’s trajectory over time.

The Dashboard is deliberately designed to be a work in progress: Metrics and reports will be added over time. The Dashboard is part of an ongoing conversation with our community on both how we're doing and how we can do better. Meeting goals will take a united effort, and we look forward to working with our families to ensure success for every student.

Learn more about the Dashboard and Saratoga Union School District metrics at:


For more information about SUSD Curriculum and Instruction or Assessments, please contact SUSD Educational Services,