Smarter Balanced Assessments

Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) are Washington’s statewide summative assessments in English Language Arts and math. Summative assessments determine students’ progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts/literacy and math.

As an active participant in the consortium that designed the Smarter Balanced tests, Washington state has administered the Smarter Balanced assessments to students since 2015.

Statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students receive a quality education, no matter where they go to school, because they are measured to equal standards. This information assists districts and schools in improving instructional practices and curriculum and gives families valuable information about how their student is doing in school and where additional help might be needed.

Test results are one piece of information about how your student is doing in school. Together with report cards and other information, test results let you know if your student is on track to succeed in higher grades as well as for college and career. For students in grade 10, these results are used by some community colleges in Washington to measure if students are on track for college-level classes.

Understanding Student Scores

The Smarter Balanced report gives families information on how well their child performed on different sets of skills in each subject. Families can use this information to identify where their child is doing well and where they may need support or practice. This helps families better support learning at home. It can also help them start meaningful conversations with teachers, to set goals for each student’s areas of improvement and to identify resources and strategies that can be used at home and in school to help students make progress.

The Starting Smarter website from the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) offers a visual guide that explains the main parts of the Family Report (also known as the Student Score Report). Parents can use drop-down menus for grade, subject, and score range to access information about the knowledge and skills represented by each student’s scores, along with some sample items from the Smarter Balanced assessments. There is also a section containing links to other resources designed for parents.

BGPS’ Smarter Balanced Assessment

The Smarter Balanced assessment tests students in English and math for grades 3-8, and 10. These assessments are one measure of students’ progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts/literacy and math. These assessments are given at the end of the school year and consist of two parts:
1) a computer adaptive test and;
2) a performance task

Computer Adaptive Test (CAT)

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System includes computer adaptive tests that are customized to each student. During the test, the difficulty of questions changes based on student responses. In this way, adaptive tests provide more precise information about student achievement in less time than a “fixed-form” test in which all students see the same set of questions.

How the Smarter Balanced adaptive software works The adaptive software runs in the background while students complete the assessment. After each response, it selects the next question based on a number of criteria, including: the specifications from the test blueprint; the number of times a question is likely to be used (to prevent overexposure of questions); and previous responses from the student.

Performance Task (PT)

A question type designed to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge and higher-order thinking skills to explore and analyze a complex, real-world scenario. Students will respond to a prompt related to the topic. It is a required portion of the test needed to generate a score.

Smarter Balanced: A Complete Assessment System

SBA Testing dates – BGHS & PHS high schools

  • 4/16/24 – 2.5-hour late start – running periods 1-3 ELA
  • 4/18/24 – 2.5-hour late start – running periods 4-6 ELA
  • 5/21/24 – 2.5-hour late start – running period 1-6 Math
  • 4/30/24 – WA-CAS (no schedule change)


If you have questions about your child’s participation in these assessments, please contact your school’s assessment coordinator or;

Lacey Marsolek, District Assessment Coordinator


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