Early Assessment Program testing in English language arts

Posted by guest blogger Matthew Rosin, senior research associate, EdSource (Mountain View, CA).

This is my second post on California’s Early Assessment Program (EAP). The previous post provided a brief overview of the key components of the EAP, developed by California State University (CSU) and California’s K–12 leaders. The components include expanded versions of certain state assessments taken by 11th graders in English language arts and mathematics. These provide students with early signals about their college readiness.

This post focuses on how EAP testing is offered in English language arts, and what this means for student participation in the program.

To understand how EAP testing is conducted in English language arts, it is important to understand how the state of California assesses 11th graders in the subject. As part of California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, the state administers California Standards Tests (CSTs). These tests assess student achievement relative to California’s academic content standards, across grades 2 through 11. There is a single English language arts CST for each of these grades.

In 2009, nearly all of California’s high school juniors (96%) took the Grade 11 English Language Arts CST, according to the California Department of Education. This means virtually all high school juniors in the state, if they wished, could participate in the EAP in English by taking an expanded version of the grade 11 test. By doing so, they could potentially achieve an exemption from placement testing in English at CSU.

The items that augment the Grade 11 English Language Arts CST include 15 additional questions and an essay. For the purpose of assessing students’ readiness for college, CSU considers students’ success on these additional items, and on about 40 questions from the original test.

A substantial majority of California’s high school juniors do participate in the EAP in English. CSU reports that 82% of 11th graders who took the English language arts CST in 2009 also participated in the EAP in the subject.

This means the vast majority of last year’s high school juniors in California public schools received early feedback on their readiness for college-level English during the summer before their senior years. Of these students, 16% were assessed as “ready for college” and exempted from CSU placement testing, according to CSU.

In the next post, we will take a closer look at how EAP testing is offered to 11th graders in mathematics. Because mathematics testing in California’s high school grades is organized differently than in English language arts, so too is the EAP in mathematics organized differently.

This post is adapted from EdSource’s High School to Community College report (Nov. 2008), updated with 2009 testing data.

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