Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

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 Smarter Balanced Assessment System (Video; 2:56) displays 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.

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.

  • California's Test Guide Score Web Site External link opens in new window or tab. – Users can view sample test items for the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments for for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics by grade and achievement level (i.e., the kinds of questions that students at different levels of achievement would likely answer correctly.) 
  • Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting External link opens in new window or tab. – Smarter Balanced provides information about assessment scores and achievement levels. This includes information about the setting of achievement levels, 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 – Graphic information is provided for Smarter Balanced Assessment Threshold Scale Scores and Achievement Levels for ELA. This information is presented in data tables, a line graph, and a bar chart by grade.
  • Mathematics – Graphic information is provided for Smarter Balanced Assessment Threshold Scale Scores and Achievement Levels for mathematics. This information is presented in data tables, a line graph, and a bar chart 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.

Communications About Smarter Balanced

Related Resources

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

Smarter Balanced Practice Tests – Practice Tests and scoring guides for grades three through eight and 11 in ELA and mathematics.

The 2016–17 Estimated Testing Times External link opens in new window or tab. for Smarter Balanced assessments describes the approximate times that will be required to complete each portion of the summative tests for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. These tests are not time; therefore, actual completion times will vary.

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.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 22, 2017
Recently Posted in Testing
  • Back-to-School Toolkit (added 16-Aug-2017)
    The Back-to-School Toolkit includes resources for school site administrators to use when talking to educators and parents at back-to-school California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress activities.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 218 (added 10-Aug-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, August 9, 2017.
  • CAASPP Coordinator Checklist (added 04-Aug-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), Summative Assessments checklist of tasks and activities for successful administration.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 217 (added 03-Aug-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, August 2, 2017.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 216 (added 27-Jul-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, July 26, 2017.

  • CAASPP Update, Issue 215 (added 20-Jul-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, July 19, 2017.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 214 (added 12-Jul-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, July 12, 2017.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 213 (added 06-Jul-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, July 5, 2017.
  • Three Year Assessment Timeline (updated 29-Jun-2017)
    Gantt chart of the assessments administered to students in grades, kindergarten through 12.
  • CAASPP Update, Issue 212 (added 29-Jun-2017)
    California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) e-mail update, June 28, 2017.