Smarter Balanced Awards Test Delivery System Contract to American Institutes for Research

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) announced today that the American Institutes for Research (AIR) will develop an open source solution for delivering the Consortium’s online, computer adaptive summative and interim assessments to students. Online test delivery is a critical component of next-generation assessments, and this contract demonstrates that Smarter Balanced is on track to deliver a high-quality assessment system to member states in the 2014-15 school year.


“The Smarter Balanced assessment system features a number of technological advances, including a state-of-the-art adaptive design to accurately and efficiently measure achievement and growth, innovative item types that provide better measurements of the Common Core State Standards, and accessibility and accommodations options based on individual student needs,” said Tony Alpert, chief operating officer of Smarter Balanced. “The test delivery system will bring all of these elements together to ensure that each student receives the right test, at the right time, in a secure and stable online environment.”


The test delivery system encompasses test registration, presenting the assessment items to students, and delivering the data from the test to reporting systems. Under this contract, AIR, in collaboration with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), will modify its existing test delivery system to meet Smarter Balanced specifications for the Pilot Test of the assessment system in early 2013 and the Field Test in early 2014. AIR’s system is used by several states to deliver statewide online assessments. It is compatible with the range of technology in schools, including computers, laptops, and tablets—requiring only a secure Internet browser for administration. The system will be optimized for release in its open source version in fall 2014.


Smarter Balanced is developing a balanced system of assessments—with formative, interim, and summative components—that measure achievement and growth toward college and career readiness. The work of Smarter Balanced is guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system can provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help students succeed—regardless of disability, language, or background.


This summer and fall, educators from Smarter Balanced Governing States are working to write and review assessment items and performance tasks for the Pilot Test of the assessment system. Smarter Balanced is also conducting cognitive laboratory studies and small scale trials with students to understand how students respond to innovative items.


To date, Smarter Balanced has issued 14 requests for proposals and awarded 12 contracts (out of an expected 17) toward the development of the summative assessment. More information on the Consortium’s procurement process is available at:




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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