DC Comprehensive Assessment System
About Washington, D.C.’s Standardized Tests for 3rd Grade – High School
Are your children preparing for the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System exams, known DC-CAS? DC-CAS tests measure the progress of students in third grade to eighth grade, as well as high school. DC-CAS test results provide actionable data that helps parents, teachers, and students improve academic performance in reading, math, writing, science, and other subjects. DC-CAS scores are also used in evaluating each school’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
Time4Learning and Time4Writing—two online services that teach many of the DC-CAS test skills—offer this page to support your research on the best ways to help your kids with DC-CAS practice and preparation.
DC-CAS at a Glance
Washington, D.C. public school students take the following DC-CAS tests:
DC-CAS Tests: 3rd – 8th Grades, and 10th Grade
DC-CAS tests are aligned to the D.C. Learning Standards, which define what District of Columbia students should learn in every grade. The annual DC-CAS testing is administered as follows:
DC-CAS Reading: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th grades.
DC-CAS Math: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th grades.
DC-CAS Composition (writing): 4th, 7th, and 10th grades
DC-CAS Science: Fifth and eighth grades
DC-CAS Biology: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades
DC-CAS tests are criterion-referenced assessments. Thus, your child will only compete against him or herself, rather than be compared against other test takers, as with norm-referenced tests. DC-CAS tests are NOT timed; students can take as much time as they need to complete the tests.
D.C. Benchmark Assessment System (DC-BAS)
Prior to taking the DC-CAS, students in grades 3-10 participate in the D.C. Benchmark Assessment System (DC-BAS). Administered at four intervals during the school year, DC-BAS measures students’ progress and helps teachers adjust instruction in preparation for the DC-CAS, which is given at the end of the school year.
How DC-CAS Tests Are Scored
DC-CAS test scores measure how well students have mastered grade-level content and skills, as specified by the D.C. Learning Standards. Student achievement in each subject is reported by one of four performance levels:
4. Below Basic
Achieving proficient or advanced levels is considered passing the DC-CAS tests. DC-CAS results are not used to make decisions regarding grade-level promotion or retention in Washington, D.C., but if your child is struggling with DC-CAS testing, be proactive. Contact your school and find out what you can do to support learning at home.
Other District of Columbia Standardized Tests
DCPS provides alternate assessments that promote learning for all students. The DC Comprehensive Assessment System-Alternate Assessment Portfolio (DC CAS-Alt) is designed to measure the progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities who need special accommodations. Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) take the ACCESS for ELLs® tests, which measure progress in English language acquisition. DCPS also offers educational services designed to deliver effective instruction to gifted and talented students.
NAEP in Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia also participates annually in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, where a sampling of students (from grades 4, 8, and/or 12) are tested in several content areas as part of a nationally representative assessment of student performance.
Preparing for the DC-CAS
For general tips on test preparation, please visit our standardized test overview page.
The real preparation for DC-CAS, or any standardized test, begins with your commitment to your children’s education throughout their school years. Devote time and effort to helping your children learn. Start by making sure your kids do their homework and read every day. Many families also employ tutors or an online learning program, such as Time4Learning, to build fundamental skills.
When preparing for standardized tests, students often benefit from test prep programs and books, which offer guidance and practice with test formats, time restrictions, test-taking strategies (when to guess, when not to), and different types of questions. For instance, when a reading passage is followed by comprehension questions, many test prep programs teach students to scan the questions first in order to know what areas of the passage require close reading. Time4Learning is not a test prep program, it is a program that builds the skills that will be tested.
Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today’s technology. It’s a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.
The online language arts and math curriculum comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.
Time4Writing provides highly effective, 8-week writing courses online that help elementary, middle and high school students build writing skills through one-on-one interaction with a certified teacher.
Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. Time4Learning’s educational teaching games give students independence as they progress at their own pace.
Parents like that it tracks progress and helps kids advance by teaching through individualized learning paths that assure mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed.
Have a child with math and language arts skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.
Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, risk free!
For more information and resources on Washington, D.C. Education, visit:
District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)