The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is a system of assessments that measures the progress of California public school students toward college and career readiness. The tests are aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The assessments are administered to students in grades 3-8, then once more in grade 11. In this article, we’ll focus on giving you key information about the 3rd grade CAASPP.
These exams can be challenging, and the question types are unique, so it’s very important to help your child prepare by working on sample questions. For that reason, we’re also providing links (see button below) to some CAASPP Practice Tests 3rd grade to help you get your student on the right track! In addition, you will also receive a bonus PDF "5 Proven Test Prep Strategies for Using Practice Tests" to help you develop a study plan.
Grade 3 SBAC California (aka CAASPP) Practice Test PDF:CAASPP Practice Tests Grade 3
3rd Grade CAASPP Basics
Some CAASPP tests are alternates for one another, so your child will not need to take every single one. However, the following tests are considered part of CAASPP:
In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of these assessments and help you determine which CAASPP tests your child will be required to take.
Smarter Balanced (SBAC)
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a group of member states devoted to developing and improving tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards.
Because California is an SBAC member state, California public school students take SBAC tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades 3-5 and again in grade 11.
Students with significant cognitive disabilities, as well as English language learners who have been enrolled in a United States school for less than one year, take alternative assessments to replace the SBAC. All other California public school students are required to complete the SBAC.
SBAC tests consist of two parts: a computer adaptive test and a Performance Task. While most state assessments ask each student the same set of questions, the SBAC’s computer adaptive test adapts to the individual student’s skill level, with questions growing increasingly difficult if students answer correctly and getting less challenging as students miss questions.
Performance Tasks take about 45 minutes to complete and prompt students to apply grade level appropriate skills and knowledge, as well as critical thinking and problem solving, to respond to complex real-world problems.
SBAC question types include the following:
Another unique feature of the SBAC is that it is untimed, allowing students to perform to the best of their ability without the pressure of time constraints.
However, it is estimated that for 3rd grade students, the English Language Arts exam should take about 4 hours, while the Mathematics test should take about 3 hours. The tests are generally administered over the course of a few days.
SBAC Mathematics 3rd Grade
For 3rd grade students, the goal on the Mathematics test is to ”demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in mathematics.”
To do this, students must show ability in the following areas:
For Concepts and Procedures, 3rd grade students are expected to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, understand place value and fractions, solve problems involving measurement and estimations of time, mass, and volume, and understand the basics of shapes and their characteristics.
To demonstrate ability in Problem Solving, students must be able to apply math to real-world situations. They must be able to strategically select and use tools as they solve problems, and they need the ability to interpret results in context.
It’s also important for students to be able to identify key information in a practical scenario and map the relationship using grade level appropriate diagrams, graphs, formulas, etc.
For Communicating Reasoning questions, students should be able to explain their reasoning, construct examples to evaluate a proposition or conjecture, and identify flaws in arguments or logic. Students may be asked to critique, prove, justify, or investigate mathematical conjectures and logic.
Modeling and Data Analysis questions require students to apply mathematical knowledge to real world scenarios at a deep level of understanding. Students may be asked to develop mathematical models of their own or to improve upon provided models. Students may also be asked to make reasoned estimates and plan, design, evaluate, and recommend tasks.
Overall, SBAC Mathematics is heavily focused on applying mathematical concepts to real-world situations. While this may sound difficult, remember that all math concepts are grade level appropriate, with skills building on one another over the years.
Plus, the CASPP practice tests 3rd grade can help your child go into the test feeling confident and prepared.
SBAC English Language Arts 3rd Grade
The goal for SBAC ELA is very similar to the goal for SBAC Mathematics. 3rd grade students should “demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in English Language Arts.”
To accomplish this, students must show evidence of the following skills:
The Reading portion of the test requires students to read both literary and informational texts, then answer questions focusing on key details, central ideas, the meaning of words in context, reasoning and evidence, analysis within and across texts, text structures and features, and figurative language, connotative meanings, and the impact of word choice on meaning and tone.
The section emphasizes the ability to provide evidence to support conclusions drawn from the text. Many questions consist of two parts, with the second part asking students to select evidence that supports their response to the first part.
Writing tasks require students to demonstrate the ability to write a variety of text types, including narrative, informational, and opinion pieces. The writing tasks are of varying lengths, with many “brief writes” included.
Students may also be asked to edit writing pieces and will be assessed on their use of vocabulary and language.
The Speaking and Listening questions test the same basic skills as the Reading section, but students must respond to an audio text instead of a written text. 3rd grade students may rewind and pause the audio and are permitted to take notes.
Lastly, success with Research and Inquiry questions requires the ability to locate information to support main ideas and key details, distinguish relevant and irrelevant sources, and cite evidence to support opinions.
Despite the challenge presented by SBAC ELA, students who pay attention in school and complete CAASPP practice tests 3rd grades have an excellent chance of success.
California Alternate Assessments (CAA)
Not every student is required to take the CAA. Instead, these tests are designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities and serve as alternates for the SBAC.
Like the SBAC, the CAA is administered to students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 and consist of a Mathematics and an English Language Arts test.
To qualify for the CAA, students must be unable to complete the SBAC, even with accessibility supports. They must also have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) indicate that they require assessment with an alternate test.
Although the CAA is also based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), it is an alternate version of the CCSS and there are far fewer questions than on the SBAC.
Additionally, these computer adaptive tests are administered in a one to one setting by a trained teacher who is familiar to the student.
A CAA Science test is currently being piloted. It will ultimately be administered to eligible students in grades 5, 8, and once in high school (10th, 11th, or 12th grade).
California Science Test
For those students who will not take the CAA Science test, a California Science Test (CAST) is also in the pilot stages. The test will likewise be administered to students in grades 5, 8, and once in high school (grade 10, 11, or 12).
While this test will not be required for your 3rd grader, your child will eventually encounter the assessment if he or she remains in a California public school over the next few years.
The test is computer based, and CAST questions are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Standards.
The California Standards Test (CST) for Science, the California Modified Assessment (CMA) for Science, and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for Science will no longer be administered.
Standards Based Test in Spanish (STS)
Like the CAAs, the Standards Based Test in Spanish (STS) is not required, but is an alternate to the SBAC. The STS is specifically an alternative to the SBAC English Language Arts exam.
The STS is available for grades 2-11. It is a multiple choice paper and pencil test written in Spanish.
The STS is for students who are not required to take SBAC ELA because they receive instruction in Spanish OR are Spanish speakers who have been enrolled in a United States school for less than 12 months.
CAASPP 3rd Grade Recap
CAASPP can be a bit confusing, since there are several assessments involved. Let’s do a quick review of the information we’ve mentioned:
If your child is an English language learner who has not been enrolled in a United States public school for at least a year, he or she is eligible to take the STS (written in Spanish) instead of the SBAC ELA.
This means that it is crucial for your child to focus and work hard in school, particularly in English Language Arts and Mathematics.
Advise your child to pay attention, take notes, and complete classwork and homework. If your child seems to struggle in one of these key areas, consider finding a tutor or asking the teacher for additional help.
Another key to success is to help your child work through practice questions in order to gain familiarity and confidence with test material. The CAASPP practice tests 3rd grade are a great starting point.
Armed with this information and a plethora of practice questions, your child is well on his or her way to conquering the CAASP 3rd grade!