Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Common Core?

The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-one states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core. The Common Core is informed by the highest, most effective standards from states across the United States and countries around the world. The standards define the knowledge and skills students should gain throughout their K-12 education in order to graduate high school prepared to succeed in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses, and workforce training programs.


  • What is CAASPP?

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) includes several assessments that help determine how well students are mastering content standards. The results also help schools determine where they are being the most successful and identify areas where they need to improve.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is the annual assessment that students take to determine their progress toward mastering their grade level content standards. Students take this assessment in grades 3-8 & 11. Individual student scores are reported to parents; school wide scores are reported to the public.

California Science Test (CAST) measures students' mastery of California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and is administered to students in 5th grade, 8th grade and once in high school.

California Alternate Assessments (CAA) are administered to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the SBAC or the CAST.

Though it is not part of the CAASPP, students in 5th, 7th & 9th grade also take the California Physical Fitness Test.

  • What is R.T.I?

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. These services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including general education teachers, special educators, and specialists. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data. (

  • What is P.B.I.S?

Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is an implementation framework for maximizing the selection and use of evidence-based prevention and interventions practices along a multi-tiered continuum that supports the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral supports of all students. The multi-tiered continuum is comprised of carefully selected, evidence-based practices at three different levels of support intensity.

  • Tier 1: Universal practices are experienced by all students and educators across all settings to establish a predictable, consistent, positive and safe climate
  • Tier 2: Targeted practices are designed for groups of students who need more structure, feedback, instruction and support than Tier 1 alone
  • Tier 3: Indicated practices are more intense and individualized to meet the challenges of students who need more than Tiers 1 and 2 alone


  • What is M.T.S.S?

MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on CCSS, core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs, and the alignment of systems necessary for all students' academic, behavioral, and social success. Both RTI and MTSS rely on data gathering through universal screening, data-driven decision making, problem-solving teams, and are focused on the CCSS; however, the MTSS process has a broader approach, addressing the needs of all students by aligning the entire system of initiatives, supports and resources, and by implementing continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system.


  • My child is struggling to learn. What should I do to help?

Your child's teacher is a great place to find out more about what to do for your child. They will have a different perspective on how your child is doing and where they are struggling. They might be able to provide extra help or resources that your child can use to get caught up. If challenges persist, bring your child's principal in to the discussion. They will be able to help you access other resources that the school and district have available for struggling students.

If you are not quite ready to talk to your child's teacher or principal, there are some wonderful Internet resources that can serve as a place to get further information. Here are three:

  • What type of services can Special Education provide for my child?

Special Education refers to a number of services that are provided for students. These include specialized academic instruction, speech therapy, occupational therapy (OT), adaptive physical education (APE), adaptive technology (AT) and counseling services. In order to access these services, students are assessed to determine whether or not they qualify for and Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P).

  • What is an I.E.P?

An Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P) is developed for students who require specialized instruction as a result of a disability, such as a specific learning disability. It is developed within guidelines that are part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE), meaning that students are kept in general education classes as much as possible.

  • What is a 504 plan?

A 504 plan is crafted for students who have a disability that interferes with their learning but who do not require specialized instruction. When creating this plan, parents and educators determine which accommodations a student needs to be able to access their education.

  • What is E.L.D?

English Language Development (ELD) refers to the instruction of students who are identified as English Learners (EL). Students are provided support in the form of materials and instructional strategies designed to increase their mastery of English. Students are identified through an initial assessment and are then assessed each year to measure their progress toward being Re-designated as Fully English Proficient (R-FEP). In California, the assessments are the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC).