Higher Education

 More than one-third of all students require developmental education once they enter public two- and four-year colleges. Smarter Balanced is working with higher education leaders and faculty to develop an assessment system that helps prepare high school graduates for the demands of college.


A College Readiness Assessment

Too many students graduate from high school without the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace. The Smarter Balanced assessments are part of a national movement to address this problem. The assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which were developed by K-12 educators and college faculty to define the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in college and the workplace. The assessment system—including summative and interim assessments and formative resources for teachers—will provide accurate and consistent information about student progress toward college readiness.

Higher Education Involvement

Each Smarter Balanced state has identified a Higher Education Lead, who serves as a liaison between Smarter Balanced and state higher education institutions. In addition, higher education leaders hold seats on the Executive Committee and serve on key Consortium work groups and advisory committees. Jacqueline King, director of higher education collaboration at Smarter Balanced, oversees outreach to the higher education community and provides support to the state higher education leads..

Collaboration with higher education leaders and faculty is critical to our success. Representatives from higher education have been involved in key design decisions—with the goal that colleges and universities across Smarter Balanced member states will accept an agreed-upon achievement level on the assessment as evidence that high school students are ready for entry level, credit-bearing coursework. Major areas of work for higher education have included:

  • Expert advice from higher education faculty in the areas of educational measurement, mathematics, English language arts, and special student populations including students with disabilities and English language learners
  • Development of the Consortium’s College Content-Readiness Policy
  • Design of resources on career readiness for voluntary use by states
  • Development of Achievement Level Descriptors in ELA/literacy and mathematics that provide detailed information on what students should know and be able to do at each of four achievement levels on the Smarter Balanced assessments
  • Establishment of threshold scores that determine whether students are on track to be ready for entry-level, transferable, credit-bearing courses at participating colleges and universities.

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