Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Releases IT Systems Architecture

Technology blueprint will guide the development of online assessments


OLYMPIA, Wash. — February 9, 2012 – The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) released a report establishing the information technology (IT) systems architecture, a major milestone in the development of the assessment system. Developed collaboratively with member states and technical experts, the IT systems architecture outlines requirements and specifications for the different software platforms to develop, administer, score and report results from Smarter Balanced assessments.


“A comprehensive technology blueprint is an indispensable step in the development of the Smarter Balanced assessment system,” said Tony Alpert, chief operating officer of Smarter Balanced. “Just as the blueprint of a house shows how rooms are arranged, this document defines how each of the technology components will work together so that the entire assessment system meets the needs of policymakers, teachers, parents and students.”


The Smarter Balanced IT systems architecture will serve as development guidelines for future Consortium contracts, including contracts to develop the item authoring, item banking, test design, test administration, scoring and reporting systems, as well as the digital library of formative tools and resources for teachers.


The Technology Approach Work Group led the development of the IT systems architecture, in partnership with Measured Progress, during a three-month period that began in September 2011. The reports are available here:


“Innovative use of technology serves as the backbone of the Smarter Balanced assessment system, and the IT systems architecture is designed to support emerging technologies necessary for next-generation assessments,” said John Jesse, assessment and accountability director with the Utah Department of Education and co-chair of the Technology Approach Work Group.


“At the same time, the Smarter Balanced IT systems architecture will ensure interoperability through established standards, promote strong data security, and provide low operational costs for states,” added Steve Garton, coordinator of educational technology with the Maine Department of Education and co-chair of the Technology Approach Work Group.


The IT systems architecture provides enterprise-level technology specifications for the Smarter Balanced assessment system. This framework will inform the next phase of system development, including standards for individual software components, such as the test administration system that will deliver assessments to students and establish minimum requirements for computers and bandwidth at the school level.


An Architectural Review Board (ARB) will oversee further development of the IT systems architecture and make recommendations regarding technology standards to the Executive Committee throughout the development of the assessment system. The 14-member ARB is comprised of state K-12 and higher education representatives, as well as members of the Smarter Balanced Technology Approach Work Group.




About Smarter Balanced
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium brings together states to create a common, innovative assessment system for mathematics and English language arts/literacy that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and helps prepare students for college and careers. The Consortium involves educators, researchers, policymakers and community groups in a transparent and consensus-driven process to help all students thrive in a knowledge-driven global economy. The Consortium’s projects are funded through a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, comprising 99 percent of activity resources, with the remaining support provided through generous contributions of charitable foundations. Membership is open to any interested U.S. state. For more information, please visit

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