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Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science

The 5th, 8th, and 11th grade Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) will be administered for the first time in spring 2018. These tests fulfill the federal (ESSA) requirement that students be tested in science once at each level: elementary, middle, and high school.

The WCAS measures the level of proficiency that Washington students have achieved based on the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards, which were adopted in October 2013.

Standards Assessed
Grade 5Grade 8Grade 11
3-5 band of NGSSMiddle school band of NGSSHigh school band of NGSS

With the signing into law of House Bill 2224 the high school science assessment graduation requirement is postponed until the Class of 2021. This means that students in the Classes of 2017 through 2020 do not need to pass a science exam in order to graduate. The table below details the federal accountability (ESSA) and assessment graduation requirements (HB 2224) for the classes of 2018-2021.

Grade in

Class of...

Science Assessment
Spring 2018

Science Assessment
Spring 2019 and beyond







WCAS for federal accountability





WCAS for federal accountability in 11th grade (2019)




WCAS for graduation and federal accountability in 11th grade (2020)

  • WCAS Features
    • Will assess all three dimensions of the learning standards (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting concepts).
    • Will consist of several item clusters (items associated to common stimuli) and standalone items.
    • Will require approximately the same testing times as previous state science assessments.
    • Will use the same online engine as the Smarter Balanced assessments. For item clusters, stimuli will appear on left side of screen, with associated items on the right side. Standalone items will occupy the entire screen.
    • Will have some clusters with more than one stimulus. The first stimulus is collapsed when the second stimulus is provided. Both stimuli are available to the student.
    • Will have some locking items where student cannot change their answer once they have moved on to the next item. This allows subsequent items to update the student with correct information. An “attention” box warns the student that they will not be able to change their answer once they move on, and will give the student a chance to return to the item and change their answer.
    • Will include a variety of item types:
      • Selected Response—multiple choice, multiple select
      • Technology Enhanced—ex: drag and drop, drop-down choices, simulations, graphing
      • Constructed Response—ex: equation builder, short answer
    • Will include multi-part items:
      • Parts labeled with letters A, B, and C.
      • May have a mix of item types. May ask for evidence to support an answer from a previous part of the item.

    • 2017 WSTA Science Assessment Presentation New
      Information about the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) was shared, including: science assessment development opportunities, test design and features, item specifications, training tests, and resources available on the science assessment webpage.

    • Online WCAS Training Tests
      The Washington State Testing Portal provides a variety of testing resources for Washington State testing for test administrators, educators, and parents. Training tests for the WCAS will be available in late Fall 2017

    • Lessons Learned from Scoring Student Work
      The Science Assessment Team shares observations about student responses for the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science field test. Coming Fall 2017

    • Test and Item Specifications
      The Test and Item Specifications describe how the clusters and items for the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science are developed. The document includes a technical description of the assessment that assures the assessment will validly measure the science standards in a reliable manner every year. Coming Fall 2017

    • Professional Development Opportunities
      Science educators throughout Washington are encouraged to sign up for science assessment updates as well as apply to participate in assessment development events.

    • Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) Frequently Asked Questions NEW
      This document provides answers to a list of frequently asked questions about the current and future state science assessments.

    • NGSS Description and Timeline
      Describes the transition and implementation of the standards and assessments.

    • Past Assessments Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), Biology End-of-Course (EOC)
      Please contact the science assessment team to request resource materials related assessment written to the 2009 Washington K-12 Science Learning Standards.

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   Updated 10/27/2017

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