California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) - Definition & Meaning

The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) is an alternate assessment program in California, United States, designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to participate in the state's regular Large-Scale Assessments (LSAs). CAPA is part of California's comprehensive testing system and is aligned with the state's academic content standards.

Key points about the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) include:

  • Target Population: CAPA is specifically designed for students with severe cognitive disabilities, including those with significant intellectual, developmental, or communication impairments.
  • Alternate Assessment: CAPA is an alternate assessment, meaning it provides an alternative way for eligible students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. It recognizes that traditional LSAs may not be appropriate for all students.
  • Assessment Methods: CAPA uses a portfolio assessment approach. Instead of traditional test items, students compile portfolios that include evidence of their academic achievements and progress in various areas, such as reading, mathematics, and language arts.
  • Individualized: CAPA assessments are highly individualized to accommodate the unique needs and abilities of each student. The portfolio may include items such as work samples, observations, and teacher-designed assessments.
  • Participation Guidelines: Eligibility for CAPA is determined by a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, which includes educators, parents, and specialists. The IEP team assesses whether a student's disabilities significantly impact their ability to participate in regular assessments.
  • Accountability: Like traditional LSAs, CAPA results are used for accountability purposes, including school and district performance evaluations. However, CAPA results are reported separately from regular assessment results.
  • Alternate Standards: CAPA is aligned with alternate academic content standards, which are tailored to the specific needs of students with severe cognitive disabilities.
  • Modifications and Accommodations: CAPA assessments may include modifications and accommodations to support students' participation while maintaining the integrity of the assessment process.
CAPA serves as an important component of California's efforts to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities have access to meaningful assessments that reflect their individual learning achievements.

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