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Summative Assessments


The Smarter Balanced Assessment System has three components: the Summative Assessments, designed for accountability purposes; Interim Assessments, designed to support teaching and learning throughout the year; and the Digital Library, designed to support classroom-based formative assessment processes. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Graphic (PDF) and Smarter Balanced Assessment System Video (2:57) displays the relationship between these components, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and college and career readiness.

The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are comprehensive end of year assessments in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics and measure progress toward college and career readiness. The tests capitalize on the strengths of computer adaptive testing—efficient and precise measurement across the full range of achievement and timely turnaround of results.

Both the ELA and mathematics assessments are comprised of two parts:

(1) Computer adaptive test

(2) Performance task

All students in grades three through eight and grade eleven take these assessments, with the exception of those students who have an individualized education program that designates the use of an alternate assessment. The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are administered when at least 66 percent of instructional year has been completed.

Achievement Levels

Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) are commonly used in K–12 statewide assessments to explain the knowledge, skills, and processes that students display at predetermined levels of achievement (e.g., Basic, Proficient, and Advanced). These ALDs are often found on student-level score reports or on state aggregate reports so that stakeholders, such as parents and teachers, can understand the types of knowledge, skills, and processes that students have demonstrated on an assessment.

Achievement level setting (ALS), also known as standard setting, is the process for establishing one or more cut scores on an assessment, making it possible to create categories of performance. On Monday, November 17, 2014, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced that it voted to approve achievement levels for the Smarter Balanced Assessments for ELA and mathematics. These assessments are part of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. Please visit the Smarter Balanced Achievement Levels Web page External link opens in new window or tab. for more information on the following topics:
  • Approval of Achievement Level Recommendations Press Release
  • Interpretations and Use of Scores and Achievement Levels
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Achievement Level Setting Overview

Early Assessment Program Background and Purpose

The California Department of Education (CDE) collaborates with the California State University (CSU), California Community Colleges (CCC) and the State Board of Education (SBE), to address the increasing number of incoming college students who require remediation in English and/or mathematics. Beginning in spring 2015, the CSU will use CAASPP English language arts/literacy and mathematics performance level outcomes to provide grade eleven students, their families, and high schools early signals about students’ readiness for college-level coursework. The Early Assessment Program (EAP) is designed to bridge the gap between high school standards and college expectations by substantially increasing college readiness and college success of California’s high school students. In addition, the EAP not only strengthens comprehensive, high-school-based, college preparation programs, but it also allows each public high school, CCC and CSU to determine the college preparation status of individual students. The March 2015 joint letters with the California Department of Education, California State University, and California Community Colleges to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, High School Principals, College and High School Counselors and Career Center Directors, Grade Eleven English and Mathematics Teachers, and Grade Eleven Students regarding the 2015 EAP are provided below.

2015 Early Assessment Program

Additional Resources

Related Resources

Smarter Balanced Test Blueprints – These summative blueprints reflect refinements and revisions after the analysis of the Pilot and Field Tests. The test blueprints describe the content of the ELA and mathematics Summative Assessments in grades 3‒8 and grade 11, and how that content will be assessed to reflect the depth and breadth of the performance expectations for the CCSS. These test blueprints provide information about the number of items, score points, and depth of knowledge for items associated with each assessment target. They will also continue to guide the development of items and performance tasks, score reporting, and ongoing research.

More information on the administrative guidelines for the Smarter Balanced Assessments may be found on the Smarter Balanced Assessments Web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, December 1, 2016
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