STATE TESTING FAQs
What is Smarter Balanced?
Smarter Balanced assessments are aligned to Washington state’s learning standards, so they measure students’ progress on critical skills they will need after high school, whether they go on to an apprenticeship, an industry certification program, college or straight into the workforce. The assessments include multiple choice questions and performance tasks designed to measure skills like research, listening, and communicating reasoning. The tests require students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems and write persuasively. The tests are “computer-adaptive,” so the computer automatically adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the student is taking the test. Parts of the test are graded by scorers and other parts are machine scored so the results will be returned faster than our previous tests. Supports and accommodations are available for students who need them.
Which tests will students take this school year (spring 2018)?
Why do we need assessments like Smarter Balanced?
The Smarter Balanced assessments are aligned to what students are learning in the class. These tests serve as independent, objective measures of how students are doing and whether they are on track to master skills like problem solving and critical thinking that they will need to succeed after high school. Clear, understandable test scores help students, teachers, and parents work together to adjust their approach and better meet students’ needs. The Smarter Balanced assessments also provide data that we use to determine, for example, what’s working in special education, or whether race- or income-based achievement gaps continue to persist.
What are the benefits of taking the Smarter Balanced assessment?
Smarter Balanced assessments are designed to measure what students really know and can do, so they are an important tool to help students and parents better understand if kids are on track for success after high school. The assessments can show if a student needs extra help or accelerated learning opportunities. The ultimate goal is to ensure that students graduate with options and a foundation of skills and knowledge to pursue their goals.
Students who take Smarter Balanced assessments have access to additional resources:
Is taking the Smarter Balanced assessment optional?
In Washington state, students must take the Smarter Balanced assessment in high school as part of their requirement to graduate. If they do not achieve at least a certain score on the English language arts and math tests, there are alternative pathways, such as achieving a certain score on college admissions or dual credit courses, earning dual credit, or passing approved locally-administered assessments.
Students in the classes of 2014-18 also can appeal if they haven’t met their testing requirement. The appeal is reviewed by the student’s school district and then sent to OSPI for final approval.
The new Smarter Balanced tests are:
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Updated April 2017