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Smarter Balanced Assessment System

Latest information about the new generation of English-language arts/Literacy and mathematics assessments.

The Smarter Balanced assessment system utilizes computer-adaptive tests and performance tasks that allow students to show what they know and are able to do. This system is based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. The Smarter Balanced assessment system has three components designed to support teaching and learning throughout the year: the summative assessments, the interim assessments, and the Digital Library of formative assessment tools.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System Graphic (PDF) and video display the relationship between these components, the CCSS, and college and career readiness. View sample test items External link opens in new window or tab. by claim and item type on the Smarter Balanced Web site.

  • Summative Assessments
    In grades three through eight and eleven for ELA and mathematics. The summative assessments are administered as part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System.
  • Interim Assessments
    Designed to improve and promote teaching and learning by providing information that can be used to monitor student progress toward mastery of the CCSS. These optional resources are available to all kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) teachers in ELA and mathematics.
  • Digital Library
    Consists of tools and practices designed to help teachers utilize formative assessment processes for improved teaching and learning in all grades. These optional resources are available to all California educators.

Communications About Smarter Balanced

Student Scores and Achievement Levels

Smarter Balanced summative assessment results include student scores, achievement levels, and descriptors that describe performance. These assessment results are only one of several tools used to measure a student’s academic performance in ELA/Literacy and mathematics. Smarter Balanced assessment results are most appropriately interpreted alongside other available information about a student’s academic achievement, including such measures as, classroom assignments and grades, classrooms tests, report cards, and teacher feedback.

Additional Resources:
  • Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting External link opens in new window or tab. – Information about the achievement level setting, also known as standard setting, including information on the involvement of educators.
  • Interpretation and Use of Scores and Achievement Levels External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) – Information on the Smarter Balanced vertical scale and achievement level descriptors.
  • ELA – A line graph displays the threshold scale scores for the achievement levels for the ELA portion of the Smarter Balanced assessments. A bar graph displays the estimated percentage of students scoring at each achievement level by grade.
  • Mathematics – A line graph displays the threshold scale scores for the achievement levels for the mathematics portion of the Smarter Balanced assessments. A bar graph displays the estimated percentage of students scoring at each achievement level by grade.
  • Reporting Achievement Level Descriptors – Provides brief descriptions of how a student performed in ELA and mathematics.
  • Claim Achievement Level Descriptors – Provides brief descriptions of how a student performed in key area, also call claims, in ELA and mathematics.
  • Smarter Balanced Practice Tests – Practice Tests and scoring guides for grades three through eight and 11 in ELA and mathematics.

CAASPP Update

To receive regular updates and the latest information about the CAASPP system, including the Smarter Balanced assessment systems, join the California Department of Education’s CAASPP e-mail list by sending a blank e-mail to subscribe-caaspp@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

CAASPP Update | Resources Search

Related Resources

Smarter Balanced Technology Readiness Resources
Information to assist districts to prepare technology resources for computer-based assessments.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Web Site External link opens in new window or tab.

Smarter Balanced Resources
Test blueprints, initial achievement level descriptors and college content readiness policy, accessibility and accommodation information, CCSS, presentations, frequently asked questions, and fact sheets.

Common Core State Standards
Since 2010, 45 states adopted the same standards for ELA and mathematics. These standards are called the Common Core State Standards. Teachers, parents, and education experts designed the standards to prepare students for success in college and the workplace.

Summative Assessments Quick Reference (PDF) – How to Start a Test Session.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
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