California State Standards
California, along with 44 other states, has adopted a common set of academic standards in language arts (reading and writing) and mathematics. These Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were commissioned for development by the National Governor's Association and the Association of State School Chiefs. You can read the standards themselves on the California Department of Education's website.
The changes brought on by the CCSS include a shift to more reading of informational text at all grade levels and teaching children to reference the text when discussing or writing about their reading.
In math, significantly more emphasis is placed on applying concepts in solving mathematical problems. There is greater coherence among the standards within each grade level and across grade levels in order to help students make important connections between mathematical concepts. The new standards have been aligned more closely with the standards of other nations whose students perform very well on international assessments. In 2017-18 we are beginning use of a new curriculum, Bridges, to support our math instruction.
State of California Annual testing of 3rd through 5th graders
3rd through 5th grade students take grade level assessments in reading, writing and math based on these standards in late April each year. 5th grade students also take a science assessment. The assessments are administered through an online system created and operated by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The Smarter Balanced Assessments for 3rd through 5th graders are administered on computers. This makes it important for students in grades three to five to have reasonable facility with keyboarding in order to focus on the test questions rather than the task of finding the letters on a keyboard to form their answers.
The assessments are intended to be "adaptive" meaning that the questions presented to a student on the assessment will adjust somewhat based on the student's responses. If the student is responding correctly, the questions will increase in difficulty. If, instead, the student is responding incorrectly, the questions will decrease in difficulty.