This summer, parents of students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 will receive the results of the new standardized test taken by youngsters in the state called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress–or CAASPP.

The tests, called the Smarter Balanced Assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics–replaced the old STAR Program–and represent the change to California’s academics wrought by the switch to the Common Core curriculum.

This curriculum has been adopted by 48 states and the District of Columbia and detail what kindergarten through 12th students should know in English Language Arts (ELA)and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative was sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs or to enter the workforce.

The CAASPP tests in ELA and mathematics are reportedly too fundamentally different from the old exams to make any reliable comparisons between old scores and new. That’s why this year’s scores are better thought of as a starting point—a baseline for the progress students are expected to make over time.

The reports going out to parents are dynamic–the text changes based on the name, grade and the student’s performance on the assessments themselves.

Additionally, the range of scores is different than the old system–scores now range from 2000 to 3000.

Along with a different scoring range, there is both a different number of performance levels and different names for those levels–we won’t see categories like proficient or advanced any more– instead, they’re standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met.

There are a number of special items to note.

For grade 11 students only, their overall score in English language arts and math also include their Early Assessment Program (EAP) status.

More than 100 California State University and community colleges will accept these results for EAP status–so students who scored highly enough can avoid placement exams, while those who need additional work have an indication about where to focus their energies in their senior year.

The second of these special cases involves students taking the California Standards Test for science–in grades five, eight and 10.

For them, they’ll see their science scores on the report. This is a legacy test which is not aligned to the new common core science standards and is still reported based on the old performance levels. A new science assessment is in development.

Score reports will be provided to the districts eight weeks after their testing window closes–which is generally the end of their school year.

Districts then have 20 days to mail those reports home to parents. So a district that ends its year about the first of June would expect to receive its reports over the summer, and mail them to parents in the late summer/early fall.