• Facebook
  • OSPI on Twitter
  • OSPI Medium
  • OSPI LinkedIn
  • OSPI YouTube
  • OSPI on Flickr
  • Subscribe to OSPI GovDelivery

You are here

Home » Student Success » Testing » State Assessments » Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science

Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science

Washington State Science k-12 learning

Contact Information

Assessment Development Science

Dawn Cope
360-725-4989

The 5th, 8th, and 11th grade Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) was administered for the first time in spring 2018. These tests fulfill the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (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 are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The standards were adopted in October 2013.

Standards Assessed

  • Grade 5—3-5 band
  • Grade 8—Middle school band
  • Grade 11— High school band

High School Science Testing Requirements

Eleventh graders are required to take the state science test (WCAS) to meet state and federal accountability requirements. These requirements are summarized in the table below for the classes of 2020-2023.

Grade in

2019-2020

     Class of...

Science Assessment

Spring 2020

Science Assessment

Spring 2021 and Beyond

12 2020 NA NA
11 2021 WCAS for state and federal accountability NA
10 2022 NA WCAS for state and federal accountability in 11th grade
9 2023 NA WCAS for state and federal accountability in 11th grade

House Bill 1599 removed the high school science assessment graduation requirement. Please visit OSPI’s Graduation Requirements HB 1599 page for more information.

The Test Design and Item Specifications documents describe how the clusters (stimulus and item sets) and standalone items for the WCAS are developed. They include a technical description of the assessment that ensures the assessment will measure the science standards in a reliable manner every year.

Grade 5 Test Design and Item Specifications (August 2019 - Updated)
Grade 8 Test Design and Item Specifications (August 2019 - Updated)
High School Test Design and Item Specifications (August 2019 - Updated)

Modifications Log (August 2019 - Updated)

Science Test Design & Item Specifications Release Webinar
January 2018 webinar presentation slides (final draft), answers to questions asked during the webinar, and the recording of the webinar.

Training Tests for the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) for grades 5, 8, and high school are available on the WCAP Portal. To experience the greatest variety of question types and test functionalities, students in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade should interact with the training tests at all three grade levels.

This Online Training Test Support document (updated January 2019) includes information about accessing the training tests, descriptions of ways to practice using the tools for each item type, an answer key, and other information for each question.

How to Work with the WCAS Training Tests Webinar
January 2018 webinar presentation slides (final draft), answers to questions asked during the webinar, and the recording of the webinar.

The scores from the spring 2019 WCAS are available:

  • Statewide test scores publically released on Report Card
  • For educators: Scores available in the Online Reporting System (ORS) on the WCAP Portal
  • For families: Paper WCAS Individual Score Reports (ISRs) arrived in districts in early October.

Sample Score Reports

Scale Score Ranges

Understanding WCAS Score Reports Webinar
September 2018 presentation slides (final draft), answers to questions asked during the webinar, and the recording of the webinar.

Lessons Learned from Scoring Student Work

The Science Assessment Team shares observations about student responses for the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) field test items.

Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs)

The ALDs describe the knowledge, skills, and processes that students demonstrate on state tests at pre-determined levels of achievement for each tested grade level.

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

This document provides answers to a list of frequently asked questions about the current and future state science assessments.

2018 WERA Conference

Students in grades 5, 8, and high school took the operational Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) for the first time in spring 2018. At this session, OSPI staff shared information and gathered session attendee questions and feedback on anything related to the WCAS and its first administration to continue support for educators.