Data & AssessmentData Analysis Analysis Guidelines IdeasSTAR: Appropriate Content Cluster Analysis

STAR: Appropriate Content Cluster Analysis

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Each STAR CMA, CST, and STS (abbreviations at bottom) question is devoted to measuring student mastery of a particular state content standard, and each of these state content standards is classified within a particular content cluster. Thus each students (or teachers, sites, districts, etc.) performance on a CMA, CST, or STS can be broken down into content cluster performance. STAR CAPA tasks assess performance on sets of state content standards, and CAPA results are not broken down by content cluster. Cluster performance is the most specific form in which California disseminates standards-based data, as the state never reveals how students performed on individual standards.

For example, Grade 7 ELA CST data can reveal how a student scored overall (raw score, scale score, and proficiency level), but also the percent of questions the student answered correctly in the areas of clusters like Word Analysis and Vocabulary Development (or raw score; clusters do not have individual scale scores or proficiency levels). Thus STAR results offer more targeted feedback for instructional and programmatic improvement, as well as more precise interventions for students. However, please note that multiple measures (e.g., STAR in addition to grades, local assessments, teacher feedback, etc.) should be used when making decisions for individual students (e.g., placement, promotion, etc.).

All clusters are worth 1 point per question, with one exception: the Grade 7 and (prior to 2009-2010) Grade 4 ELA CST and CMA contain a Writing Applications cluster that is based solely on the California Writing Standards Test. One person scores the writing test using a 4-point rubric and then doubles the score, making the cluster worth 8 points. Clusters containing more questions render more reliable scores than clusters containing fewer questions.

Cluster-to-Cluster Comparison

Year-to-Year Cluster Growth

Cohort Cluster Growth

More Information

Visit for more information on STAR tests, blueprints (featuring how questions and standards relate to strands), and released test questions (featuring how standards relate to clusters). Reference Chapter 1 of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Post-Test Guide available at and California Technical Reports available at for more information on analyzing results.

Abbreviations and Terms

CAPA - California Alternate Performance Assessment (alternative to CST for students with severe cognitive disabilities; much easier than CST)

CDE - California Department of Education

CMA - California Modified Assessment (alternative to CST for qualifying Special Education students; much harder than CAPA but easier than CST)

CST - California Standards Test (for all students who do not qualify for the CAPA or CMA)

EAP - Early Assessment System (not a STAR test, but administered in conjunction with STAR testing), established by California State University

ELA - English-Language Arts (tested within the STAR Program for grades 2-11)

EOC - End-of-Course (secondary STAR tests based on History-Social Science, Math, and Science course rather than grade level standards)

Mean - Average (the sum of a distributions measures divided by the number of a distributions measures)

R - Rubric (scores are based on a rubric score rather than test questions)

SA - State Average (average score for all students statewide who took the given test)

SMA - State Minimally Advanced (average for students statewide who scored at the lowest scale score for advanced, which varies)

SMP - State Minimally Proficient (average for students statewide who scored at the lowest scale score for proficient, which is 350)

STAR - Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR Program includes CAPA, CMA, CST, and STS and orchestrates EAP testing)

STS - Standards-based Tests in Spanish (required for Spanish-speaking English Learners receiving instruction in Spanish or in U.S. < 1 year)