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California Modified Assessment (CMA)

California Modified Assessment (CMA)

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - June 7th, 2014

Many parents ask us what the California Modified Assessment, or CMA, is. In the state of California, the accepted assessment of school progress is the STAR test, otherwise known as the Standardized Testing and Reporting examination. In order to remain in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), every student enrolled in California schools must take a STAR test.

The California Modified Assessment (CMA) was created for students who, due to cognitive or other difficulties, are not appropriate subjects for the traditional STAR test battery.

How Eligibility is Determined

Several criteria come into play when determining which California Standards Test (CST) a student will take. In order for a student to be eligible for the CMA, certain guidelines must be met.

The student must have already taken a traditional CST test and scored in either the Below Basic or Far Below Basic range. This guideline applies whether or not the student took the CST with modifications. The student must have taken a CAPA (California Alternate Performance Assessment) within the last two years, scoring in either the Advanced or Proficient range.

Objective and multiple examples are in place which indicates to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team that the student would not be an appropriate candidate for the traditional CST. The student’s parents must be informed of the school’s decision to administer the CMA instead of a traditional CST.

What the California Modified Assessment (CMA) Does Not Indicate

Students who take a CMA are not prevented or precluded in any way from working toward their high school diploma. Students and parents should keep in mind, however, that every student graduating high school in California must pass the California High School Exit Examination.

Determining whether or not a student takes the CMA or a traditional CST can’t be based on any of the following: special education classes or services; school absences; cultural, economic or language barriers. Likewise, a disability can’t be the sole reason for CMA recommendation. This must come as an IEP team decision based on multiple examples indicating that the student is not an appropriate candidate for a traditional CST. For more information, speak with school officials and visit the California Department of Education’s website or

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