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The Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program measures performance on the California Achievement Test, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6 Survey), the California Content Standards Test and the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education (SABE/2). The STAR Program is the cornerstone of the California Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 (PSAA). The primary goal of the PSAA is to help schools improve the academic achievement of all students.
Each spring, California students in grades 2 through 11 must take a series of tests that comprise the state's STAR program. These must be completed 10 days before or after 85% of a school's year has passed.
The California Standards Tests (CSTs) are designed to match the state's rigorous academic content standards for each grade. Grades 2 through 8 tests cover mathematics and English/language arts (which includes writing in grades 4 and 7). Grades 9 through 11 cover English/language arts, mathematics, and science. History-social science tests are added for grades 8, 10 and 11 as well as science for grades 5 and 8. Except for writing, all questions are multiple-choice.
California's school accountability system was originally based solely on scores from the CAT/6. Through the Academic Performance Index (API), the scores drove the allocation of millions of dollars in intervention and award programs, depending on the health of the state’s budget. (The state has not funded award or intervention programs based on 2002 or 2003 test scores.)
APIs now include results primarily from the California Standards Tests plus CAT/6. Results from the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), taken by 10th graders in the 2001-02 school year, are part of high school APIs. English/language arts scores count for 10% and math for 5%.