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Smarter Balanced Assessment System

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

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is a multistate consortium working collaboratively to develop a student assessment system aligned with a common core of academic content standards for English language arts/literacy and mathematics. As a Smarter Balanced governing state, California is a decision-making member. Smarter Balanced assessments are designed to measure student progress toward college and career readiness.

Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment FAQs is a newly published document that answers the most frequently asked questions that California educators pose for these anticipated resources.

Program Updates

Bimonthly program updates issued by the California Department of Education (CDE).

Smarter Balanced Updates
Current update and archived updates sent to the CDE Smarter Balanced e-mail list. To receive bimonthly updates on Smarter Balanced activities, join the California Department of Education's Smarter Balanced e-mail list by sending a blank e-mail to

Spring 2014 Field Test

CALPADS Integration with the Smarter Balanced Field Test
February 5, 2014 letter from CDE to LEA CALPADS Administrators and LEA CAASPP Coordinators regarding the integration of CALPADS and the Smarter Balanced Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE) for the Smarter Balanced Field Test.

Spring 2014 Field Test
The Smarter Balanced Field Test will take place between March 18 and June 6, 2014. Students in grades three through eight and grade eleven will be assessed via computer in English-language arts and mathematics. A small sample of ninth and tenth grade students will also participate in the Field Test.

California Technical Assistance Center (CalTAC) Web site External link opens in new window or tab.
Information and training resources for the Smarter Balanced Field Test and other California assessments for the 2013–14 school year.

Field Test Questions and Answers (Updated 07-May-2014)
Answers to questions about requirements and expectations of local educational agency participation in the spring 2014 Field Test.

Testing Windows for the 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test, by County External link opens in new window or tab.

Sampling Plan for the Spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test
November 20, 2013 letter from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Practice Tests, Training Tests, and Sample Items

Practice Tests
The Smarter Balanced Practice Tests are now available for grades three through eight and grade eleven in English-language arts and mathematics. The Practice Tests provide a preview of the Smarter Balanced assessments, but do not reflect the full range of content that students may encounter on the actual assessments.

Training Tests External link opens in new window or tab.
The purpose of the Training Tests is to provide students with an opportunity to quickly become familiar with the software and interface features of the Smarter Balanced tests. A Training Test is available for each of grade bands 3–5, 6–8, and high school, and offers six to nine items per grade band in each content area (i.e., English-language arts and mathematics). The Training Tests includes new item types and universal tools, designated supports, and accommodations.

Question Types (Updated 19-May-2014)
Examples of question types that students may encounter on the Smarter Balanced Field Test, and the student technology skill required to respond to each question type. The information is current as of the May 19, 2014 version of the Practice Tests.

Sample Items and Performance Tasks External link opens in new window or tab.
The samples on the Smarter Balanced Web site illustrate the rigor and complexity of the English-language arts/literacy and mathematics items and performance tasks students will encounter on the Smarter Balanced assessments.

Digital Library Development

Scheduled to be available in 2014, the Digital Library is a critical component of the Smarter Balanced system of assessments and will include a variety of resources to improve teaching and learning.

Quality Criteria for the Digital Library External link opens in new window or tab.
Smarter Balanced Director of Professional Learning Chrystyna Mursky provides background on the development of the Quality Criteria for the Digital Library, as well as an overview of the rating system to be used for resources. In addition, Formative Assessment Practices/Transition to the Common Core Work Group members explain how State Leadership Teams and State Networks of Educators will use the Quality Criteria to evaluate resources for the Digital Library starting in late August.

State Network of Educators
The State Network of Educators will review resources for the inclusion of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library.

Technology Components

Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and Testing Device Requirements External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Provides minimum hardware specifications and basic network bandwidth calculations that will allow schools and districts to evaluate which of their existing devices will support the administration of next-generation assessments. The last page (Appendix A) includes a Revision History of the changes for each version of the document.

"Is Your Technology Ready for the Common Core Assessments?" - December 2013
Recording of a live webinar presented by the California Department of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, and San Juan Unified on December 9, 2013. Presentation provides information for schools and districts to prepare their current information technology as it relates to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessments.

Technology Readiness Tool
Information on the Web-based tool used by districts to report on the current technology at each school in the district. Includes links to video training modules, frequently asked questions, and file import layout specifications.


Smarter Balanced Resources
Preliminary test blueprints, initial achievement level descriptors and college content readiness policy, accessibility and accommodation information, Common Core State Standards, presentations, frequently asked questions, and fact sheets.

Related Content
Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
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