The California Basic Educational Skills Test™ (CBEST®) was developed to meet requirements of laws relating to credentialing and employment. This test requirement does not replace any of the other requirements of subject matter knowledge, professional preparation, and practice teaching or field experience applicable to the issuance of credentials. The CBEST is designed to test basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills found to be important for the job of an educator; the test is not designed to measure the ability to teach those skills.
The California legislation that established the CBEST directed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and an Advisory Board consisting of a majority of educators from California classrooms, to develop the CBEST. The development of the CBEST included definition of the primary skills to be tested; test-item writing and review for relevance to the specified skill areas; field testing; a validity study focusing on the accuracy, fairness, clarity, and job relevance of each test item; bias reviews; standard-setting studies; and determination of the passing scores. Since the initial development of the CBEST, new test items have been developed by contractors and all items have been reviewed by committees of California educators to verify that they meet test specifications adopted by the CTC and are free of bias.
The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson was contracted by the CTC to assist in the development, administration, and scoring of the CBEST.
Basic Skills Testing Options for California
Prior to the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1186 (Chap. 518, Stats. 2008), the following three options were the only options available to satisfy the California basic skills requirement needed for the issuance of most Commission documents:
- passage of the CBEST
- passage of a basic skills examination from another state
- passage of all three subtests of CSET: Multiple Subjects plus the CSET: Writing Skills (for more information about this option, view the California Subject Examinations for TeachersŪ [CSETŪ] information at www.ctcexams.nesinc.com)
On January 1, 2009, SB 1186 added two more options for satisfying the basic skills requirement. These additional options are as follows:
- passage of both of the English and Mathematics sections of the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP), showing status as "College Ready" or "Exempt" in each section
- passage of both of the California State University placement examinations: the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics Test (ELM). The EPT passing score is 151 or higher. The current ELM passing score is 50 or higher, while the passing score for the ELM taken prior to March 2003 is 550 or higher.
Sections from different examination options may not be combined; candidates must pass one option in its entirety. Regardless of the option used, once a basic skills examination is passed, the score is valid indefinitely.
Please see the CTC website at www.ctc.ca.gov for more information about the different examination options for certification. The basic skills requirement may also be a condition of California employment. Please contact the agency where you are considering employment for information.
CBEST Test Design
The CBEST consists of three sections: Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. CBEST test specifications, including information about the skills eligible for testing in each section, are available on the CBEST website by selecting "Test Specifications."
The examination is delivered in English, and all responses must be in English.
Tests may include some questions that will not count toward an examinee's score. These questions are placed on the test in order to collect information about how they will perform under actual testing conditions.
Reading section (50 multiple-choice questions). The questions in this section assess your ability to comprehend information presented in written passages, tables, and graphs. The materials used in the test will vary in level of difficulty and complexity and are drawn from a variety of fields. No questions require outside knowledge; all the questions are related to a particular passage and can be answered on the basis of information provided in the passage.
The Reading section questions are from two skill factors: (1) critical analysis and evaluation, and (2) comprehension and research skills. Approximately 40 percent of the questions from this section are drawn from the critical analysis and evaluation area, and approximately 60 percent are drawn from the comprehension and research skills area.
Mathematics section (50 multiple-choice questions). The questions in this section require you to solve mathematical problems. Most of the questions are presented as word problems.
The Mathematics section questions are from three skill factors: (1) estimation, measurement, and statistical principles; (2) computation and problem solving; and (3) numerical and graphic relationships. Approximately 30 percent of the questions from this section are drawn from the estimation, measurement, and statistical principles area; approximately 35 percent are drawn from the computation and problem-solving area; and approximately 35 percent are drawn from the numerical and graphic relationships area.
Writing section (2 essay topics). This section includes two writing topics that assess your ability to write effectively. You must respond to both topics. One topic asks you to analyze a given situation or statement; the other asks you to write about a specified personal experience. You are not expected to demonstrate any specialized knowledge in your responses.
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