Assessments, goals, instruction, and assistive technology are all interrelated. The assessments are not valid unless the test takes sample questions from the knowledge that the students are being taught. Therefore, goals and instruction have to be aligned with state standards so the student will have the best opportunity to have acquired the knowledge being tested. Assistive technology may be necessary to enable the student to access this curriculum. The STAR program does allow for several options for assessing a student. The California Standards Test (CST) is the general assessment that non-disabled students take. The state does want students with disabilities to participate in the same assessments as their grade-level peers whenever possible. Accommodations and Modifications can be used to help make this possible. The California Modified Assessment (CMA) can be used for some students. It is aligned with grade-level content standards and must cover the same content as the CST. A few students take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). The CAPA is designed to make grade-level content accessible for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.


  • The State of California would like students with disabilities to take the same tests as their non-disabled peers. This may require accommodations and modifications. These accommodations and modifications must be specified on the student’s IEP and used regularly in the classroom by the student.


  • CMA is an alternative to the CST. It is based on state standards but the examine is less rigorous. Certain criteria must be met before the student can take the CMA. The CMA does allow for test variations and accommodations; however, it does not allow for modifications because the CMA is a modified test. If the student is to take the CMA instead of the CST it must be specified in the current IEP along with any appropriate accommodations.


  • CAPA is an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the California Standards Tests (CSTs) with accommodations or modifications or the California Modified Assessment (CMA) with accommodations. Each student’s IEP team determines whether a student takes the CAPA and which of the five levels of the CAPA he or she takes. Most students eligible for the CAPA take the level that corresponds to their grade placement.

CDC produces blueprints for each test which list the specific content standards assessed.

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