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.

The Common Core standards and Smarter Balanced assessments provide high schools and colleges with the tools and opportunity to improve student achievement, create stronger alignment between high school preparation and entry-level college courses, and identify and address students’ academic deficiencies early so that they can avoid the time and expense of taking developmental courses that will not count toward their degrees.

In spring 2015, 7 million students in Grades 3 through 8 and 11 in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands took the end-of-year Smarter Balanced assessments. More than 220 colleges and universities in eight of these states have decided to use the assessments as part of a multiple measures approach to determine whether students are ready for credit-bearing courses and can be exempted from developmental courses.


(State Smarter Balanced policies for The California State University EAP and California Community Colleges)

101 institutions

Antelope Valley College
Bakersfield College
Butte College
Cabrillo College
California Maritime Academy
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
California State University-Bakersfield
California State University-Channel Islands
California State University-Chico
California State University-Dominguez Hills
California State University-East Bay
California State University-Fresno
California State University-Fullerton
California State University-Long Beach
California State University-Los Angeles
California State University-Monterey Bay
California State University-Northridge
California State University-Sacramento
California State University-San Bernardino
California State University-San Marcos
California State University-Stanislaus
Canada College
Cerritos College
Cerro Coso Community College
Chabot College
Chaffey College
City College of San Francisco
College of Marin
College of San Mateo
College of the Canyons
College of the Desert
College of the Redwoods
College of the Sequoias
College of the Siskiyous
Columbia College
Contra Costa College
Cosumnes River College
Crafton Hills College
Cuesta College
Cuyamaca College
Cypress College
De Anza College
Diablo Valley College
El Camino Community College District
Folsom Lake College
Fresno City College
Fullerton College
Gavilan College
Golden West College
Grossmont College
Humboldt State University
Imperial Valley College
Irvine Valley College
Lake Tahoe Community College
Las Positas College
Long Beach City College
Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles Harbor College
Los Angeles Southwest College
Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Los Angeles Valley College
Los Medanos College
Merced College
MiraCosta College
Mission College
Moreno Valley College
Mt San Antonio College
Norco College
Ohlone College
Orange Coast College
Oxnard College
Palomar College
Pasadena City College
Reedley College
Rio Hondo College
Riverside City College
San Bernardino Valley College
San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Miramar College
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Joaquin Delta College
San Jose State University
Santa Ana College
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santiago Canyon College
Shasta College
Sierra College
Sonoma State University
Southwestern College
Taft College
Ventura College
Victor Valley College
West Hills College-Coalinga
West Hills College-Lemoore
West Los Angeles College
West Valley College
Woodland Community College
Yuba College


4 institutions

Delaware State University
Delaware Technical Community College
University of Delaware
Wilmington University


(State Smarter Balanced policy)

10 institutions

Hawaii Community College
Honolulu Community College
Kapiolani Community College
Kauai Community College
Leeward Community College
University of Hawaii at Hilo
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Hawaii Maui College
University of Hawaii-West Oahu
Windward Community College


7 institutions

College of Southern Nevada
Great Basin College
Nevada State College
Truckee Meadows Community College
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
University of Nevada-Reno
Western Nevada College


(State Smarter Balanced policy)

24 institutions

Blue Mountain Community College
Central Oregon Community College
Chemeketa Community College
Clackamas Community College
Clatsop Community College
Columbia Gorge Community College
Eastern Oregon University
Klamath Community College
Lane Community College
Linn-Benton Community College
Mt Hood Community College
Oregon Coast Community College
Oregon Health & Science University
Oregon Institute of Technology
Oregon State University
Oregon State University-Cascades Campus
Oregon University System
Portland Community College
Portland State University
Rogue Community College
Southern Oregon University
Southwestern Oregon Community College
Tillamook Bay Community College
Treasure Valley Community College
Umpqua Community College
University of Oregon
Western Oregon University

South Dakota

(State Smarter Balanced policy)

6 institutions

Black Hills State University
Dakota State University
Northern State University
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
South Dakota State University
University of South Dakota


(State Smarter Balanced policy)

49 institutions

Bates Technical College
Bellevue College
Bellingham Technical College
Big Bend Community College
Cascadia Community College
Central Washington University
Centralia College
Clark College
Clover Park Technical College
Columbia Basin College
Eastern Washington University
Edmonds Community College
Everett Community College
Gonzaga University
Grays Harbor College
Green River Community College
Heritage University
Highline Community College
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
Lower Columbia College
Northwest Indian College
Olympic College
Pacific Lutheran University
Peninsula College
Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
Pierce College at Puyallup
Renton Technical College
Saint Martin’s University
Seattle Central College
Seattle Community College-North Campus
Seattle Community College-South Campus
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle University
Seattle Vocational Institute
Shoreline Community College
Skagit Valley College
South Puget Sound Community College
Spokane Community College
Spokane Falls Community College
Tacoma Community College
The Evergreen State College
University of Puget Sound
University of Washington
Walla Walla Community College
Walla Walla University
Washington State University
Wenatchee Valley College
Western Washington University
Whatcom Community College
Whitworth University
Yakima Valley Community College

West Virginia

(State Smarter Balanced policy)

20 institutions

Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
Bluefield State College
BridgeValley Community & Technical College
Concord University
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
Fairmont State University
Glenville State College
Marshall University
Mountwest Community and Technical College
New River Community and Technical College
Pierpont Community and Technical College
Potomac State College of West Virginia University
Shepherd University
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
West Liberty University
West Virginia Northern Community College
West Virginia State University
West Virginia University
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
West Virginia University Institute of Technology

In addition, in seven member states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia), K-12 and higher education have collaborated to create Grade 12 courses to help students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing courses. Smarter Balanced scores also will be used in several states to identify students who are ready for accelerated options such as dual enrollment.

Higher Education Involvement

Each Smarter Balanced state has 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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