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WHAT CONTENT IS ASSESSED  


Four major content areas assessed on the CAPT: Mathematics, Reading Across the Disciplines, Writing Across the Disciplines and Science.  Each of these CAPT content areas is described in this section in terms of its theoretical framework and the format of the test.  Typical test items may be seen n the Mathematics, Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines and Science handbooks which are available in print and on the CSDE website at: www.state.ct.us/sde/

Mathematics The CAPT design and framework for the assessment of mathematics was developed by an advisory committee of Connecticut educators and is based on current research, theory and practice in mathematics instruction and assessment.  The CAPT Mathematics Framework integrates the skills, competencies and understandings delineated in Connecticut’s Common Core of Learning  (1998) with the vision described in the State Board of Education’s “Position Statement on Mathematics Education” and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (2000). The Mathematics test assesses how well students compute and estimate, solve problems, and communicate their understanding.  The content strands assessed are Number & Quantity; Measurement & Geometry; Statistics, Probability & Discrete Mathematics; and Algebra & Functions.  The test focuses on how well students apply important mathematics concepts to problems that are relevant to their everyday lives.  Accordingly, it assumes the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills and requires the application of that knowledge and those skills to the solution of realistic problems drawn from everyday experiences and the needs of the workplace. The CAPT Mathematics test is based on the view that mathematical understanding is best assessed by doing mathematics, and that doing mathematics means using and discovering knowledge in the course of solving genuine problems.  This means that, instead of assessing long division skills directly, students apply division skills to solve everyday problems.  For example, students might be asked to find the price per pound of 2.38 pounds of ground beef that has a total cost of $6.20, compare this price with the unit prices of other possible choices and, finally, justify their purchase decision.  Students may use almost any type of calculator with which they are familiar and comfortable for the entire Mathematics test.  Students are not allowed to use a Personal Digital Assistant (P.D.A.) as their calculator.

The Mathematics test consists of 27 grid-in and eight open-ended questions.  On the open-ended items, students typically are asked to show their calculations, explain their reasoning and justify the procedure they used.  The open-ended items are hand-scored using a 4-point holistic scale.  Students enter their responses to the grid-in items into a 7-digit grid.  These items are scored electronically as either correct or incorrect.  For both open-ended items and grid-in items, there are often multiple correct answers.

A state goal standard, as well as three other standards, has been set for the Mathematics test.  Results also are reported in terms of the four mathematics content strands.  Students who reach the state goal receive a Certificate of Mastery in Mathematics.


Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines

The CAPT conceptual framework for the assessment of Reading and Writing Across the Disciplines was developed by an advisory committee of Connecticut educators and is based on current research, theory and practice in reading and writing instruction and assessment.  The framework serves several important functions.  It helps define key elements of reading and writing instruction and assessment, and shows the relationship among those key elements.  The framework also serves as a blueprint for the development of tasks and items to be included on the CAPT. Finally the framework communicates the reading and writing content of the CAPT to administrators, teachers, students and the general public. The framework grew out of the following theories about reading and writing:

Both reading and writing are dependent upon three interrelated factors; the reader’s or writer’s prior knowledge, the text and the purpose for which the reading or writing is intended; and People read and write for different purposes, and these purposes influence how we read and what we write. The reading and writing sections of the CAPT consists of four components; Response to Literature, Reading for Information, Interdisciplinary Writing, and Editing & Revising. Reading Across the Disciplines The reading Across the Disciplines section contains two tests that assess students’ reading skills: Response to Literature and Reading for Information.  In the Response to Literature test, students are asked to read a short story and then respond in writing to four open-ended questions.  Students are provided with four pages on which to write their responses.

Responses to all four questions are assessed collectively using a 6-point holistic scoring scale.  Each student’s response is scored by two independent readers.  The two scores are summed resulting in a combined score ranging from 2-12.  Four dimensions are considered when evaluating the student’s responses: initial understanding of the text; interpretation of the text making connections between the text and other texts and/or experiences; and critical evaluation of the text.  The score is based on how well the student understands the characters in the story, what they think the story means, how well they connect the story to outside experiences and how they challenge the author’s meaning or quality of the text.

The Reading for Information test requires students to read three nonfiction articles taken from magazines, newspapers and journals and answer a combination of 12 multiple-choice and six open-ended questions.  The test measures how well students interpret or explain each article and evaluate the way the author wrote the article.  Multiple-choice items are scored electronically as either correct or incorrect.  The open-ended items are hand-scored using a 3-point holistic scale.

A state goal standard, as well as three other standards, has been set for the overall Reading Across the Disciplines test, which is a combination of the Response to Literature and Reading for Information tests.  Students who reach the state goal receive a Certificate of Mastery in Reading Across the Disciplines.

The Writing Across the Disciplines Section The Writing Across the Disciplines section has two tests that assess students’ writing skills: 1) Interdisciplinary Writing 2) Editing & Revising. The Interdisciplinary Writing section requires students to apply knowledge and skills they have gained through their school career to an important contemporary issue.  This assessment consists of two Interdisciplinary Writing tests.  For each of these tests, students read three short articles about an important issue, such as restricting the licensing of teenage drivers, take a position on the issue and write a first draft of a persuasive letter.  The tests measure how well students take a clear position on the issue and use accurate information from the articles to support their position.  Students are assessed on how well they organize their ideas in a logical and effective manner so that their audience understands and follows their thinking, and express their ideas clearly and fluently using their own words.  Graphic organizers and scratch paper are provided for notes.  Students are provided with three pages on which to write their responses. Each student’s response is scored holistically by two independent readers.  A six-point scale is used, resulting in a possible combined score from 2 to 12.  Because testing time is limited, each response is scored as a draft, not a finished, edited product.

Five dimensions are considered when evaluating a student’s response:

  • taking a clear position on the issue;
  • using information from each of the three sources that are provided;
  • supporting the position with accurate and relevant information from the source materials; 
  • organizing ideas logically and effectively; and
  • expressing ideas in their own words with clarity and fluency. 

The Editing & Revising test focuses on editing, composing and revising skills.  The test requires students to read four passages of sample student writing and answer 24 multiple-choice questions to correct common errors in organization, work choice, syntax, capitalization, punctuation, usage and spelling.  Test items are scored electronically as either correct or incorrect.

A state goal standard, as well as three other standards, has been set for the overall Writing Across the Disciplines test, which is a combination of the Interdisciplinary Writing and the Editing & Revising tests. Students who reach the state goal receive a Certificate of Mastery in Writing Across the Disciplines.

Science The CAPT Design and Framework for the Assessment of Science was developed by an advisory committee of Connecticut educators and reflects a growing national consensus that science is not only a body of knowledge, but also a way of thinking about the world around us and a concern for how that knowledge is used.  The Science test thus assesses students’ understandings of important scientific concepts, as well as their application of those concepts to realistic problems.  In addition, experimentation and the ability to use scientific reasoning to solve problems are a major focus of the test.  Therefore, the CAPT Science test is not a test of high school content but, rather, a cumulative assessment of science knowledge and skills that students should have acquired in Grades K-10.

The Science test assesses important scientific knowledge from the following areas:

  • Life science -- ecosystems; cells; genetics & evolution; and human biology;
  • Physical science – structure of matter; reactions & interactions; forces & motion; energy sources & transformations; and
  • Earth/space science -- astronomy; Earth’s natural resources; meteorology; and Earth history & dynamics.

To assess experimentation, students participate in a hands-on laboratory activity several weeks prior to the written test.  This performance task asks students to design and carry out an experiment to solve a problem and write about the results in an authentic format.  Teachers are encouraged to score their own students’ work with scoring guides provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education, in order to provide students with feedback about their performance.  However, these results are not collected nor reported by the CSDE.  On the written test, students are given follow-up questions, which relate directly to the hands-on performance task.  The follow-up questions are scored at the state level and become part of the student’s overall score on the Science portion of the CAPT.

Students respond to two different types of items: multiple-choice and open-ended.  On the open-ended items, students are asked to respond in writing to the question, or they may be asked to sketch a diagram or graph.  Multiple-choice items are scored electronically as correct or incorrect.  Open-ended items are hand-scored using a 4-point holistic scale.  Overall, the Science test consists of 55 multiple-choice and 7 open-ended items. 

A state goal standard, as well as three other standards, has been set for the Science test. Results also are reported in terms of the four Science content areas.  Students who reach the state goal receive a Certificate of Mastery in Science.

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