Performance Tasks

What are Performance Tasks?


Performance tasks (PTs) challenge students to demonstrate critical thinking skills on real world problems. They are a set of questions centered on a common topic that measure capacities, such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis.

There is one PT per content area (math and ELA) on the summative assessment. PTs are taken on a computer (but are not computer adaptive) and take one to two class periods to complete.

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English Language Arts Performance Tasks


ELA performance tasks exist in two parts:

  1. Students read information from multiple sources about a central topic and answer one or two research questions relating to that source material.
  2. In a real-world "task," students construct an essay in the form of one of three writing purposes: either an Informational/Explanatory article based on a central idea, an Opinion/Argumentative essay on a position taken by the sources, or a Narrative drawing from the source materials.


What other resources exist to support the ELA performance tasks?


Where can I find sample ELA PTs?

View examples of ELA performance tasks on the Smarter Balanced Sample Items website.

Performance Tasks by Grade and Purpose
Grade Performance Task Purpose
3 Astronauts* Informational/Explanatory
3 Islands Opinion/Argumentaive
4 Ant Colony Narrative
4 Animal Habitats Informational Explanatory
5 Ready for a Nap Informational/Explanatory
5 Service Animals* Opinion/Argumentative
6 Robots Narrative
6 World’s Fair Informational/Explanatory
7 Mount Everest Narrative
7 Memory Training Informational/Explanatory
7 Penny* Opinion/Argumentative
11 Sunflower Power Informational/Explanatory

* Indicates an item on the current Practice Test.


Mathematics Performance Tasks


Mathematics performance tasks require students to integrate skills across multiple domains, clusters, and state standards to demonstrate their ability to use their math knowledge to solve real-world problems. They elicit evidence of students’ ability to “bring it all together” to develop a solution plan to the central challenge of the task.

There are three types of mathematics PTs: Plan and Design, Evaluate and Recommend, and Analysis and Theory.


Where can I find sample mathematics PTs?

View examples of ELA performance tasks on the Smarter Balanced Sample Items website.

Performance Tasks by Grade and Purpose
Grade Performance Task Purpose
3 Going Green* Analysis and Theory
4 Making Cakes Plan and Design
4 Art Day* Plan and Design
5 Clay Pottery* Plan and Design
6 Pick a Pet* Evaluate
7 Skate Park Plan and Design
7 Let’s Paint a Room* Plan and Design
8 Stack of Cups* Evaluate
11 Light Candles Action Analysis and Theory

* Indicates an item on the current Practice Test.


What other resources exist to support the mathematics performance tasks?