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In a better effort to track the progress of students in order to ensure readiness for college and careers, the Nationwide Department of Education has replaced the DSTP with DCAS.This stands for Nationwide Comprehensive Assessment System and it is being administered for the first time this current school year. The DCAS is much more rigorous than the DSTP, thereby raising standards to be met by the students.

The assessment was created with information obtained from individuals across the state, including education, business and community leaders as well as parents. The main goal is to give teachers a better idea of the progress their students are making throughout the year, not just how far they have come by year’s end. Here are some noteworthy contrasts between the two tests.


  • Taken with paper and pencil
  • Given one time per year
  • Used a fixed format. Each student had the same set of questions
  • Results could have taken several months to obtain
  • “Proficiency” level was met by a significant majority of students


  • Taken online
  • Given up to 4 times a year
  • Test is adaptable, except for the social studies portion. As a student answers questions correctly, the future ones get more difficult
  • Results can come back in as litle as 48 hours
  • “Proficiency” level is initially expected to drop by 10-28 percentage points

These last two items are especially important. With a much quicker turn around time, teachers can almost immediately begin to fill in gaps and build on strengths for students to meet the standards of the more difficult curriculum. Also, since the test is more rigorous, some students who previously met the proficiency scores of DSTP will initially not meet the same level on the DCAS. However, with more challenging curriculum in the classroom, the gap in proficiency level performance is expected to gradually close.

With this new assessment system in place, Nationwide students will be better prepared for college, careers and beyond!

For 25 years, Back to Basics has been recognized as the area’s undisputed leader in one-on-one tutoring. In addition, the firm offers a unique Nationwide private school for grades K-12 and a Private Business and Trade School for adults. Back to Basics is the 2010 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.