The Smarter Balanced Theory of Action is based on the idea that high-quality assessments can contribute to improved teaching and learning—and can ultimately help prepare all students to graduate high school college- and career-ready. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, these assessments will measure student achievement and growth in English language arts/literacy and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 11.


Next-Generation Assessments

The Smarter Balanced assessment system includes: a summative assessment to be administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year; optional interim assessments that can be used to check student progress throughout the year; and a digital library of formative assessment practices and professional learning resources for teachers.

The summative and optional interim assessments will both include a computer adaptive assessment that provides more accurate and efficient measures of student achievement and growth. A variety of assessment item types—including selected response, constructed response, technology enhanced items, and performance tasks will assess students across the full range of the Common Core State Standards.

Data to Inform Instruction

Results from the assessments will allow educators to compare student performance across classrooms, schools, districts, and states. Data will be available in a timely way through an online portal, giving teachers the feedback they need to differentiate instruction. Through the digital library, teachers will have on-demand access to resources on assessment literacy. In addition, the Consortium will provide professional development and training for teams of educators from each state.

Support for Implementation

Smarter Balanced will work with states and school districts to pilot the assessments in a sample of schools during the 2012-13 school year. A broad field test will be conducted in the 2013-14 school year.

To ensure that states and school districts are ready for online assessments, Smarter Balanced and PARCC are collaborating to develop a technology readiness tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments. This new open source tool will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year.  In addition, a paper-and-pencil version of the assessments will be available during a three-year transition period.

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