CSBA and ACSA raise CALPADS issues with California Department of Education

In response to concerns raised by members in early May, CSBA and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) a letter  to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education concerning issues in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) system. CALPADS is an essential database that is used to maintain individual-level data including student demographics, assessments, course data, discipline, staff assignments and other data for state and federal reporting.

“Our members report experiencing significant challenges with CALPADS in recent weeks, to the extent that some consider the system as it currently stands unusable,” wrote CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy and incoming ACSA Executive Director Edgar Zazueta. “The issues are impacting a wide variety of systems from student information, special education and child nutrition to CAASPP and Smarter Balanced testing. In addition to these anecdotal reports, the status page on the CALPADS website shows that there are nearly 300 active issues with only 13 resolved in the last two weeks.”

Many of the issues have a direct impact on students and include:

  • assigning new student identification numbers for incoming students who already have a record
  • Smarter Balanced assessment scheduling challenges due to failure of the new system to communicate with the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)
  • processing a student transfer in a single upload file is impossible and local educational agencies are only able to manually enroll new students if the prior LEA has closed out the record, which must also be done manually
  • created inadvertent issues with the Special Education Information System (SEIS) API, causing uploads of special education data to be paused for a month

In response to CSBA and ACSA’s letter, CDE staff spoke with CSBA and ACSA leaders about the issues and solutions that CDE is implementing, as well as responding in a letter. CSBA also invited CDE representatives to its Superintendents Advisory Council on May 16 to talk about progress on the issues and to hear from those in the field about how the defects are affecting LEAs.

In a a May 20 letter from the CDE to district and county superintendents, the department stated a cross-departmental team is working on the CALPADS issues and recent fixes should result in faster processing of submitted data.

Acknowledging that the issues were affecting the submission of data for end-of-year reporting, the CDE announced that the opening of the submission window has been shifted to May 26, 2022, and the initial certification deadline of July 31, 2022, has been lifted and CDE will “continue to assess the need to extend the final Aug. 26, 2022, deadline in the coming weeks.”

Assessment issues

While the team is working on automating the process to submit student information so the student can take the statewide assessments, upload batches will continue to be processed manually twice a week. “To keep LEAs apprised on when they can expect to see their updates in TOMS, CDE and ETS [Educational Testing Services] have provided updates in the Known Issues Log on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress website and the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) website. In addition, to provide LEAs with the latest information and updates about the CALPADS-TOMS issues, a new web page, 2022 CALPADS Updates, has been published.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires all state to test at least 95 percent of its students in English language arts, math and science, and 100 percent of all eligible English learners. CDE acknowledged concerns from the field for meeting these thresholds, but states in the letter that the federal participation penalty will be applied for the first time to the 2022 California School Dashboard. CDE has prepared a document that describes the new participation-rate penalty and notes that the 2022 dashboard will include “separate reports to show the Academic Indicator without the impact of the participation rate penalty and a communications toolkit to assist LEAs in sharing state and local context.”

LEAs are encouraged to contact the CALPADS and TOMS support desks. For CALPADS questions, email calpads@cde.ca.gov or call (916) 324-6738. For questions about TOMS, visit the California Technical Assistance Center Help and Success Agents portal or call (800) 955-2954.