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Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment FAQs

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General Questions

  1. What are the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments?

    The interim assessments are one of the three components of the Smarter Balanced assessment system, which includes summative assessments, interim assessments, and formative assessment resources available in Tools for Teachers. The interim assessments are available for English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics in grades 3–8 and high school and are available to all California local educational agencies (LEAs) to support teaching and learning throughout the school year. Interim assessments are optional resources that provide teachers with actionable information about student progress, and are designed to be given at locally-determined points during the school year. The interim assessments can help teachers, students, and parents gauge student progress toward college and career readiness, and identify strengths and areas for remediation in relation to the Common Core State Standards.

    Two types of interim assessments are available: interim comprehensive assessments (ICAs), and interim assessment blocks (IABs). ICAs mirror the summative assessment in scope and format, while IABs focus on smaller sets of related concepts and provide more detailed information for instructional purposes. For further information on the interim assessments, including a listing of available IABs, go to the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Overview External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

  2. Are interim assessments computer adaptive?

    No. The ICAs and IABs are in a fixed-format, which means the tests are static and do not adapt according to student responses.

  3. Is there a bank of test questions in the interim assessment system that can be used to build tests?
    No. The interim assessment system does not contain a bank of individual test questions; however, individual IABs can be used in groups to form larger tests. In addition, educators with access to the interim assessments can search for individual test items through the Interim Assessment Item Portal (accessed through Tools for Teachers). The Interim Assessment Item Portal allows teachers to use individual test items in flexible ways to support learning.

Access and Availability

  1. Is there a local educational agency cost associated with the interim assessments?

    The cost to access the interim assessments is covered by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) membership fees for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The state legislature voted to fund Tools for Teachers and the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments to provide equal access to support materials for all California public school educators. All ICAs and some IABs have items that require hand scoring, and costs associated with hand scoring are the responsibility of the LEA.

  2. Who can use the interim assessments and how can they be accessed?

    Interim assessments are available to all California public school K‒12 educators. Authorized users can access the interim assessments through the CAASPP or ELPAC websites using the necessary Test Operations Management System (TOMS) log in credentials. Log in credentials must be established by the LEA or site CAASPP or ELPAC coordinator. Select non-public school (NPS) staff access is available. For more details on NPS staff access, see FAQ #3 below.

  3. Which Non-Public School (NPS) staff members are permitted to have access to the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments and Tools for Teachers?

    Eligible NPS staff are educators at the NPS, whether in-state or out-of-state, who provide direct instruction to California public school students. Access to the interim assessments and Tools for Teachers must be restricted to eligible staff. LEA CAASPP coordinators are responsible for ensuring access is restricted to eligible NPS staff.

  4. Are the interim assessments available in paper-pencil format?

    No. The ICAs and IABs are designed as computer-based tests, so a paper-pencil format is not available.


  1. When can the interim assessments be accessed and/or administered?

    The interim assessments are available for use at any time throughout the year, with the exception of periodic system downtime for updates. The timing and frequency of interim assessment use are locally determined.

  2. Are interim assessments available for students at every grade level?

    The interim assessments were developed for students in grades three through eight and high school, but may be administered to students at any grade level. The available ICAs and IABs can be found by looking under "Related Resources" on the CDE Interim Assessments web page.

Scoring and Reporting

  1. How are interim assessments scored?

    Computer-based questions are machine scored by the Smarter Balanced Test Delivery Engine. Constructed-response questions, including performance tasks, must be hand scored by LEA staff. All ICAs have items that require hand-scoring. There are, however, IABs (including many of the focused IABs) that do not require hand scoring. To view which interim assessments require hand scoring, please see the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments by Grade (PDF). Further information about hand scoring is available in the Interim Assessment Hand-Scoring video module.

  2. How are interim assessment results reported?

    The California Educator Reporting System (CERS) is used to access results of the interim assessments. This reporting system is accessed with the same TOMS log in credentials available to K–12 educators to access Tools for Teachers. CERS will only display results once all portions of the interim assessment are completed and all local hand-scoring has been completed and submitted.

  3. How soon after testing is complete are interim assessment results available to K–12 educators?

    Student results are generally available in CERS within 20 minutes after the tests are submitted and all hand scoring (if needed) has been completed. All hand scoring requirements must be completed to view results.

  4. For interim assessments that contain hand-scored test items, can any results be seen if hand scoring is incomplete?

    No. CERS will only display results once all portions of the interim assessment are completed and all local hand-scoring has been completed and submitted.

  5. What information do the interim assessment reports provide?

    The ICA reports include the same information as the summative assessment reports. They include an overall scale score, an achievement level, and claim-level information. The claims reported for ELA are: reading, writing, listening, and research and inquiry. The claims reported for mathematics are: concepts and procedures, problem solving, communicating reasoning, and modeling and data analysis. Student overall achievement scores are reported in four performance levels: “Standard Exceeded,” “Standard Met,” “Standard Nearly Met,” and “Standard Not Met.” Student achievement by claim is reported in three reporting categories, “Above Standard,” “Near Standard,” and “Below Standard.”

    The IAB reports focus on a smaller set of skills and are designed to provide information about student performance on a related set of standards. IAB results are reported based on three classifications: “Below Standard,” “Near Standard,” and “Above Standard.”

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Office | | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 16, 2023
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