Category Archives: Educational Testing

Help Your Child Prepare For Upcoming Testing!

Testing with success series

Overcoming test anxiety

Most students experience some level of anxiety during an exam
However, when anxiety affects exam performance it has become a problem.

General preparation/building confidence:
Review your personal situation and skills
Academic counselors can help you in these areas, or refer to our Guides on the topic:

  • Developing good study habits and strategies (a link to our directory)
  • Managing time
    (dealing with procrastination, distractions, laziness)
  • Organizing material to be studied and learned
    Take a step by step approach to build a strategy and not get overwhelmed
  • Outside pressures
    success/failure consequences (grades, graduation), peer pressure, competitiveness, etc.
  • Reviewing your past performance on tests
    to improve and learn from experience

Test preparation to reduce anxiety:

  • Approach the exam with confidence:
    Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to your self, practice, team work, journaling, etc.
    View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you’ve studied and to receive a reward for the studying you’ve done
  • Be prepared!
    Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test. Use a checklist
  • Choose a comfortable location for taking the test
    with good lighting and minimal distractions
  • Allow yourself plenty of time,
    especially to do things you need to do before the test and still get there a little early
  • Avoid thinking you need to cram just before
  • Strive for a relaxed state of concentration
    Avoid speaking with any fellow students who have not prepared, who express negativity, who will distract your preparation
  • A program of exercise
    is said to sharpen the mind
  • Get a good night’s sleep
    the night before the exam
  • Don’t go to the exam with an empty stomach
    Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress.
    Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices
  • Take a small snack, or some other nourishment
    to help take your mind off of your anxiety.
    Avoid high sugar content (candy) which may aggravate your condition

During the test:

  • Read the directions carefully
  • Budget your test taking time
  • Change positions to help you relax
  • If you go blank, skip the question and go on
  • If you’re taking an essay test
    and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind
  • Don’t panic
    when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for finishing first

Use relaxation techniques
If you find yourself tensing and getting anxious during the test:

Relax; you are in control.
Take slow, deep breaths

Don’t think about the fear
Pause: think about the next step and keep on task, step by step

Use positive reinforcement for yourself:
Acknowledge that you have done, and are doing, your best

Expect some anxiety
It’s a reminder that you want to do your best and can provide energy
Just keep it manageable

Realize that anxiety can be a “habit”
and that it takes practice to use it as a tool to succeed

After the test, review how you did

  • List what worked, and hold onto these strategies
    It does not matter how small the items are: they are building blocks to success
  • List what did not work for improvement
  • Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle

Check out local centers and resources in your school for assistance!

If you are aware that you have a problem with test anxiety,
be sure your teacher or instructor knows before any testing begins
(and not the hour before!).
There may be other options to evaluate your knowledge or performance within the subject matter.


Are teachers excited about this?   Those in education longer than 15 years know where we used to be and how to find their way forward with the knowledge you have gained.  Grab the hands of newer teachers and show us the way.

How do you feel about this new Every Student Succeeds Act?



CCSS: Math.Practice.MP1
Lesson Objective
Encourage students to learn from mistakes
7 min
Questions to Consider
What does Ms. Alcala mean by “flow through” credit?
Why does Ms. Alcala review her favorite mistakes instead of the correct answers before passing back the test?
How does this grading strategy foster a class culture that values risks and learning from mistakes?
Common Core Standards

Awards of Excellence Winner!

PARCC Scores are out!

UPDATED: PARCC Sets Cut Scores for Test, But Won’t Say What They Are

Dig-Computers-Classroom.jpgBy guest blogger Catherine Gewertz

The PARCC testing consortium made a pivotal decision Wednesday: It established the cut scores for its test. But it chose not to disclose most of those scores, or to say what portion of students performed at each of the five achievement levels.

At a meeting in Washington, PARCC’s governing board voted to approve the cut scores for the English/language arts and math tests in grades 3-8. But it disclosed only one of the scores that mark the thresholds between the levels of mastery. On a scale of 650 to 850, students will need to score a 750 to reach Level 4, which in grades 3-8 connotes a “strong command” of the standards, and in high school signifies college readiness.

PARCC’s governing board did the same thing Aug. 14, when it voted to approve cut scores for the high school tests. All officials would say is that each test will be scored on a scale of 650 to 850, and that students would need to score 750 to reach Level 4. They would not disclose the threshold scores needed to reach Levels 2, 3 and 5. They didn’t reveal, either, what portion of high school students scored at each of the levels on the exam.

PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin would say only that states are still finalizing their data, so it’s too early to disclose how students performed on the test, which was given for the first time this past spring.

He didn’t say why PARCC wouldn’t release the actual cut scores, and testing experts were baffled by that as well. Several psychometricians we consulted said they had no idea why PARCC couldn’t disclose the scores that students would need to meet to reach each performance level on the test.

UPDATE: PARCC decided Thursday afternoon to release the rest of the cut scores. Updated “mock” score reports on its website, which had earlier had placeholder numbers for cut scores, now show the actual cut scores the board approved, according to PARCC assessment chief Jeff Nellhaus.  They are: 700 to score at Level 2, 725 to score at Level 3, and, as previously reported, 750 to score at Level 4. The cut point for Level 5 will vary somewhat by grade and subject, but will be around 803, Nellhaus said during a webinar for the Education Writers Association.

“Cut points on the reporting scale ought to be something they’re willing to let go of,” said one assessment expert who’s very familiar with PARCC’s work to establish cut scores. “I can’t understand why they wouldn’t do that.”

That same expert said, however, that the consortium’s decision not to release “consequence data”—how students scored on the test, given the newly established cut scores—was understandable. He said that some states might still be finalizing data—for example, making sure that if they’re reporting scores by subgroup, that they’re placing students correctly into those groups.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia administered the PARCC exam. States are keeping one another apprised of when they will release test results, and they anticipate doing so between mid-October and the end of November. The consortium has developed score reports that many or all of its states are likely to use.

By contrast, the 18 states that used the Smarter Balanced exam last spring are each reporting results their own way. California is the most recent to do so; it released its results yesterday.

When Smarter Balanced set its cut scores last November, it released the scale, the cut points, and the projected proportions of students it expected to perform at each of the four categories on its test. (The student-performance data were only projections, since Smarter Balanced established its cut scores based on data from the 2014 field test, not from the operational test in 2015.)

PARCC’s decision to delay the disclosure of its cut scores and its student-performance data prompted some questions and skepticism in the assessment world. Douglas McRae, who oversaw the design of California’s assessments in the 1990s as a top executive at CTB/McGraw-Hill, said he is uneasy about PARCC’s “lack of transparency and data.”

When California established the cut scores for its STAR program in the early 2000s, he said, the cut-score recommendations made by panels of experts, as well as those made by the department of education’s staff, were blended into a memo that was sent to the state board of education, and became part of the public record for the regional meetings it held to gather public input on the cut scores. How students would perform at each test level based on those recommended cut scores was also part of that record, he said.

“It’s very unusual for a test-maker to announce final cut scores and not release estimated proportions of kids at each level [of the test],” he said in an email to Education Week.



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Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.50.04 AM

What happens when the Common Core becomes less … common?

 January 25
The Common Core State Standards were envisioned as a way to measure most of the nation’s students against a shared benchmark, but education experts say political upheaval and the messy reality of on-the-ground implementation is threatening that original goal.

“Part of the whole point was you were going to have commonality that would let you compare schools in Chicago to schools in Cleveland,” said Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who supports the concept of common standards but has been critical of efforts to implement the Core. “We may not see the benefits that folks were hoping to see. . . . The whole notion of commonality, which was so attractive, is more and more a phantasm.”

One of the bipartisan hopes for the Common Core, a set of guidelines for what the nation’s kindergarten-through-12th-grade students should learn and when, was that states would leave behind their patchwork of 50 different sets of standards measured by 50 different tests. It would, for the first time, be easy for parents and policymakers to directly compare student performance in one state to the rest of the nation, and it would be much more difficult for lagging states to game the system in an effort to hide weak performance.

That goal seemed easily within reach in 2011, as 45 states and the District of Columbia adopted the new standards. The Obama administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help states develop two new online tests, known as PARCC and Smarter Balanced, that would measure student progress on the Common Core, and most states signed on to administer those tests starting this spring.

But as some states head into their first round of testing, the picture has fragmented amid political blowback from parents and conservative lawmakers who criticize the Core as nationalized education and have found the new course material confounding.

Indiana and Oklahoma have dropped the Core, and four other states are moving to review and potentially replace the standards. Lawmakers in other statehouses are taking up anti-Common Core bills as the legislative season gets underway.

There has been even broader resistance to the common standardized tests. In 2010, for example, there were 26 states aligned with the testing consortium known as PARCC, but that has whittled down by more than half: Now only 12 states plus the District plan to give the PARCC exam to students, according to the Council of State School Officers, an organization of state education chiefs. Mississippi became the latest state to back out of the PARCC testing consortium this month amid calls from Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to drop the Common Core.

Smarter Balanced has seen less attrition, but just 18 states plan to give that test this spring. The states that are planning to administer one of the two tests account for about 40 percent of students nationwide, according to an analysis by the trade newspaper Education Week. The remaining 20 states have chosen their own tests, which could make meaningful comparisons difficult.

Common Core advocates say they never thought every state would sign on to the standards or that every state would agree to one of the two consortia tests. But they also acknowledge that the fragmentation is not ideal, and they hope more states will decide to return to the fold.

“The real issue is what some of these independent state assessments are going to look like, and I think the jury is still out,” said Gene Wilhoit, the former director of an organization of state schools chiefs who played a key role in promoting the Core.

Wilhoit said he had initially envisioned a much more limited number of tests that would allow for a broad comparison of student performance across many states, providing a national picture of achievement.

Although it’s not clear how testing will shake out, Wilhoit said he’s confident that the nation’s focus on Common Core will make it impossible for states to slide by with easy tests that make their students look more accomplished than they are. That has been an issue since 2002, when the federal No Child Left Behind law established sanctions against schools that failed to meet testing targets.

“I am convinced that whatever comes about will be scrutinized to a degree that no one has ever seen,” Wilhoit said. “I think it’s going to be difficult now for any state to hide.”

Some teachers say it’s important to be able to compare their students’ performance with students elsewhere.

Eu Hyun Choi, a seventh-grade math teacher in Chicago, said on a trip to New York for literacy training she realized that, because the two states gave different tests, it wasn’t possible to gauge how her students measured up against those in New York. She feared that her students were being held to a lower bar than their peers elsewhere.

“I just felt like Illinois students were getting cheated,” she said.

The Chicago school system announced this month that it would administer PARCC to 10 percent of its students because of concerns about limited technology access.

Choi said she hopes her students are among those who will take the PARCC exam this year, but she was dismayed to find out that she’ll only be able to compare her students’ performance with 11 other states.

“That’s pretty shocking,” she said.

Other teachers say they don’t care much about the ability to compare test scores across state lines. But they’re tired of the indecision that has come with the political tussles over the standards and their tests.

Natalie Shaw, a second-grade teacher in Indiana — which is choosing an exam — said the turmoil is frustrating. For much of the past year, she said, it has been unclear what Indiana teachers are supposed to teach and what students will be expected to know on spring tests.

“At the end of the day, people just want to know what do they want us to teach so we can make sure that kids are prepared for the types of assessments that are coming up,” Shaw said.

Opposition to the Common Core tests has come amid a broader national debate about standardized testing, which many parents and teachers argue has warped public education. Critics of the Common Core and testing have cheered the fracturing of the testing consortia, but many advocates play down the impact of states withdrawing from the common tests.

“I really don’t see it as a problem,” said Karen Nussle, executive director of the pro-Common Core Collaborative for Student Success. “I think the testing landscape is going to continue to evolve, and I’m really optimistic.”

Nussle and other Core advocates argue that the standards are more important than the tests because they aim to push teachers to better prepare students for life after high school. Most states have retained the standards, although some have backed away from the name “Common Core” because of its political volatility.

Although membership in the two testing consortia has shrunk, there are still large swaths of the country where, for the first time, students will take the same test.

“This is huge, considering the idea of common standards, let alone common assessments, was unfathomable less than a decade ago,” PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin said by e-mail. He added that PARCC hopes more states will join the consortia because “students and their families have a right to know if they are on track, and to know how they are performing compared to students in schools across their state and the country.”

Luci Willits, Smarter Balanced’s deputy executive director, said that while cross-state comparisons are ideal, “the real value of the assessment is the quality.” Both consortia say their tests are built to assess students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, providing a more accurate picture of students’ preparedness for college and careers.

Advocates also say they think the number of states administering the consortia tests will grow if states see that the tests are cheaper, and of better quality, than tests that states develop independently.

“States are going to go at their own speed,” said Chad Colby, a spokesman for Achieve, a nonprofit organization that managed the development of the standards.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.


As the calendars moves forth, so do we at Passion In Education/The Bridge Virtual Academy.
Questions? Contact:

California High School Proficiency Exam

Are you looking for school options outside of brick and mortar high schools?

Do you want to find and pursue new opportunities?

Ready to continue your education at a community college, university, or technical school?

Want to get into the work force?

The CHSPE (California High School Proficiency Exam) could open up a variety of options for you.

Educate yourself about the CHSPE and provide registration information and instructions for taking the test in your area.

Important Notice: As of April 1, 2014, the California Department of Education (CDE) has decided to postpone the scheduled change in test series for the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE). This test series change is dependent on the approval of a one-year contract for the 2014-15 school year. All portions of the CHSPE that were passed since 2004 remain valid and will count toward earning a Certificate of Proficiency. The CHSPE test series will not change until after the March 21, 2015 test administration. At that time, examinees who have not yet earned a Certificate of Proficiency by May 1, 2015 may need to begin the testing process again in the new test series. Sections and subtests previously passed in the current test series may cease to be valid.


Registration for the October 18, 2014 administration of the CHSPE is now open. The regular registration deadline for the October administration is September 19, 2014. Registration materials including printed Registration Form, proof of eligibility, and appropriate payment, must be received in the CHSPE Office by 5 p.m. on that date to avoid late registration fees.

FRI – SEP 19   Fall 2014 Regular Registration Ends 5 p.m. Accommodations Deadline
FRI – OCT 03Fall 2014 Late Registration Ends 5 p.m. Non-emergency sites close
TUE – OCT 14Fall 2014 All Registration Closed

Introducing a new feature: Google Translate
The CHSPE Web site is currently published in English. For those who speak other languages, we’ve made it easy to use Google’s translation service to translate our information into other languages. To translate the entire CHSPE Web Site, just choose a language from the dropdown menu at the bottom left of the English pages. We hope easy access to this free service is helpful. Because Google Translate is an automated service, content may contain mistranslations of difficult or obscure words and phrases. The Sacramento County Office of Education and the California Department of Education take no responsibility for any mistranslations due to use of the third-party Google Translate function.