Smarter Balanced is a public agency currently supported by 15 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Through the work of thousands of educators, they created an online assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), as well as tools for educators to improve teaching and learning. Smarter Balanced is housed at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS). TOMS is the abbreviated name for the Test Operations Management System, which CAASPP uses to manage the delivery of the four online tests to students in grades 3,4,5,6,7,8, and 11 each year.
The Test Operations Management System (TOMS) allows for the creation of teacher accounts for access to the online test administration for CAASPP assessments. It generates reports of student participation and test completion and provides access to test results when they become available. It is the main interface through which progress on test completion can be evaluated, appeals filed, and reports generated.
Much of the student data in TOMS (demographic information, GRADE LEVEL, etc.) is pulled from CALPADS. Therefore, it is essential that you keep this data accurate in CALPADS, especially right before and during any test window, otherwise you may not be able to assign the correct test to each student.
What are the CAASPP Assessments?
The CAASPP or “Smarter Balanced” assessments are a series of tests taken by students in 17 states, including California. The tests are administered to students only in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11. Students in other grades are not assessed by Smarter Balanced. The tests were first introduced in the 2014-15 school year. They are typically administered in late April and May of each school year.
The tests themselves are different from traditional tests in that students complete them using a computer. Schools provide appropriate laptop, "chromebooks" or traditional desktop computers securely connected to the Internet, in order to allow students to complete each test. Students must TYPE their open-ended and essay responses, and use the mouse or trackpad to select other responses and to move from question to question.
Test #1 Math Computer Adaptive Test
Each student takes a total of FOUR individual tests. The first is a Math test of approximately 35 to 50 questions that requires students to identify the correct answers from predetermined answers (multiple choice), enter their own "open-ended" responses with no answer prompts, and complete matching activities. Most, but not all, of the CAT test is graded or scored by the computer. Only the "open-ended" responses on this test require a teacher to evaluate and score.
This is called a "Computer Adaptive Test" because the test is supposed to respond to how well the student is doing, and adjust the difficulty level of the questions accordingly. As a result, some students may complete only 35 questions, while others may complete as many as 50 individual questions.
Because of this, some students may finish the CAT in 60 minutes, while others could take 90 minutes or even longer. Since there is no predetermined time limit, some students might even take 3 or 4 hours to complete each test! This creates a set of new challenges for teachers, students, and administrators, who must now accommodate longer testing periods while simultaneously maintaining the networked computers with battery power. It is important to take all of these technological and scheduling needs into consideration long before the testing window opens.
Test #2 Math Performance Task
The second test, also in Mathematics, is a so-called "Performance Test." This test, like the three others, is also conducted online using a computer. Unlike the Computer Adaptive Test or "CAT" test, however, the Performance Test (“PT”) is characterized by a single, longer, and more complex problem or activity that involves a number of different standards, steps, and ideas. Students give essay-type responses of varying length, and usually answer between 3 and 8 questions. Despite the smaller number of questions, the PT takes just as long, or longer, for the students to complete.
Test # 3 English Language Arts Computer Adaptive Test
The third test repeats the cycle of Computer Adaptive Test and Performance Task Test, this time in English Language Arts. The ELA CAT has approximately 35 to 50 questions that requires students to identify the correct answers from predetermined answers, enter their own "open-ended" responses with no answer prompts, and complete matching activities. Again, since there is no predetermined time limit, some students may even take 3 or 4 hours to complete each test.
Test # 4 English Language Arts Performance Task
The fourth and last test is another Performance Task (PT) test that requires students to complete a smaller number of more complex questions in response to extended reading selections. Similar to the math PT tests, students will complete this test in greatly varying lengths of time and technology needs and scheduling must be highly planned (and also flexible!) to accomodate the needs of each student.
This list is compiled annually through our web surveys, internet research, and phone interviews with California school districts.
All California School districts use the TOMS system for annual student testing/assessment.