New test to better track student progress toward college and career readiness debuts in Delaware classrooms


In another major step to transform the educational experience for Delaware students, school children across the state will start taking the first of a series of new tests which will monitor students’ progress toward college and career readiness like never before possible.

Schools will begin administering the new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) online to replace the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) this week. Based on higher student proficiency standards, DCAS will more accurately and more closely measure each student’s academic performance throughout the course of the year —not just at the end of the year— so schools can quickly identify areas of strengths and weaknesses to tailor instruction appropriately for each student. The exams can be taken up to four times per year with results back within 48 hours.

The research-based assessment system was developed with input from education and business leaders, parents, and other community leaders across the state, with the goal being to provide teachers with critical information about where their students begin their classes and how much progress they are making towards Delaware’s new higher standards.

“This new test gives parents, teachers and schools a better barometer of student academic progress so we can better prepare them for the tougher demands and challenges that await them in future college courses and the workforce,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Delaware’s children deserve the highest quality education. We must set higher expectations for our students and provide our teachers with timely and useful information about student progress.”

The DCAS Standard Setting Panel established higher expectations for students on the DCAS in the form of higher cut scores for demonstrated proficiency in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies. The State Board of Education recently adopted the higher standards for students to be considered “proficient” on the assessment. As a result, the number of students with DCAS scores reaching the “proficiency” level is projected to be about 10 to 28 percentage points lower than with DSTP, which will more closely align with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Scores are expected to gradually rise as students master the state’s more rigorous curriculum.

Initial Drop Expected in Percentage of Students Meeting Proficiency Level



DSTP Proficient





NAEP Proficient


Gr4 76% 48% 35%
Gr8 78% 47% 31%
Gr10 64% 46%
Gr4 78% 53% 36%
Gr8 68% 50% 32%
Gr10 57% 47%

With results back in just a couple days, teachers and parents will now have access to comprehensive performance data almost immediately after students take the test. “Results of the rigorous benchmark exams taken throughout the year will serve to closely track how students are performing so schools can immediately provide intensive support where gaps are found and build upon achievements,” Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery said.

This week, students will start testing in Reading and Math in third through tenth grades. Schools have provided opportunities for students to take DCAS practice tests in advance of the first administration to become familiar with the exam’s adaptable format, which prompts questions for each student based on the mastery of knowledge and skills demonstrated in responses to prior questions. English, Biology, U.S. History, Algebra and Integrated Math End of Course assessments will be field-tested starting in the spring semester and will be instituted next school year.

DCAS Replacing DSTP to Better Measure College and Career Readiness

Taken with paper and pencil Taken online
Administered once a year Administered up to 4 times a year
Fixed-form: Every student had same set of questions Adaptable*: As student answers questions correctly, questions get harder

*excludes social studies exams

Results back up to several months after test was taken Results back within 48 hours
Large majority of student scores meeting “proficiency” level Initial student scores meeting “proficiency” level expected to be 10 to 28 percentage points lower

The testing schedule is available for parents at their child’s school. However, the windows for testing across the state are listed in the following page.

Calendar of DCAS Administration

22 Reading and Math Practice Tests Available all school year

NOTE: Science and Social Studies Practice tests will be available on March 1, 2011 and for the rest of the school year.)

11 Initial Blended Test Window opens for Reading/Mathematics Grades 3-10
19 Initial Blended Test Window closes for Reading/Mathematics Grades 3-10
22 The testing system is open for new entrants from November 22 through

December 15, 2010

15 Testing closed for new entrants.

Testing system is closed for maintenance from December 15 through January 4, 2011

5 Mid-year Blended Test Window Opens

Math/Reading 3-10

5 Block 1 End of Course Independent Field Test Opens

Algebra I — Integrated Math I — English II – Biology – U. S. History

28 Block 1 End of Course (EOC) Independent Field Test Closes
APRIL 2011
4-8 Spring Break 1
11 Mid-year Blended Test Window Closes

Math/Reading 3-10

12-17 Testing system is closed for maintenance
18 Final Blended Test and Norm Referenced Assessment Windows Open

Final Blended – Math/Reading 3-10

Ongoing Assessment opens – Math/Reading Grade 2 only

Final Summative Assessment opens – Science 5, 8 and 10

Norm Referenced – Math/Reading 3-10

18-22, 25-29 Spring Break 2 and Spring Break 3
MAY 2011
2 Full Year and Block 2 End of Course Independent Field Test Opens

Algebra I — Integrated Math I — English II – Biology – U. S. History

23 Social Studies Final Summative Assessment Window Opens

Grades 4 and 7

JUNE 2011
3 Final Blended and Norm Referenced Windows Close
3 Social Studies Final Summative Assessment Window Closes
3 Full Year and Block 2 End of Course (EOC) Independent Field Test Closes
3 Ongoing Assessment Grade 2 Window Closes

NOTE: Paper pencil test window dates to be provided in a separate document

For additional information about DCAS, please go to

release from Delaware Department of Education