Advances in technology can improve the quality, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of assessments. Building on the success of member states and catalyzing the creation of new technologies will allow the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to:


  • Accurately and efficiently measure student achievement and growth through computer-adaptive testing;
  • Develop innovative and real-world test items that assess the breadth of the Common Core State Standards for virtually all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners;
  • Enhance teacher and administrator professional development and capacity building at the local level; and
  • Leverage cross-state resources to deliver assessments and produce both standardized and customizable reports that are cost-effective, timely, and useful for teachers, students, and parents to track progress towards college- and career-readiness.

Technology Requirements

The Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework and Testing Device Requirements provide minimum hardware specifications and basic bandwidth calculations that will allow schools and districts to evaluate which of their existing computers will support the administration of the assessment system in the 2014-15 school year.

The framework was developed with input and feedback from Smarter Balanced member states, work groups, and data from the Technology Readiness Tool, an online inventory of technology resources launched in 2012. Based on the research and data analysis, Smarter Balanced estimates that the majority of schools and districts in member states will be able to successfully administer the assessments with their existing infrastructure.

The requirements apply only to the Smarter Balanced assessments and should not be considered minimum specifications to support instruction, which may require additional technology. In addition, all hardware choices should consider the individual needs of students. Some students may need hardware that exceeds these minimum guidelines, and some students may require qualitatively different hardware.

** Please note that the minimum and recommended specifications in the Technology Framework documents have been clarified as of 11/1/13.

IT Systems Architecture

Developed collaboratively with member states and technical experts, 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.

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 ARB is comprised of state K-12 and higher education representatives, as well as members of the Consortium’s Technology Approach Work Group.

    • Karl Buchanan – IT Director, Wasatch School District (UT)
    • Bonnie Edwards – Technology Initiatives Director, CA Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
    • Phil Emer – Director of Technology Planning and Policy, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, North Carolina State University
    • John Fleischman – Assistant Superintendent of Technology Services, Sacramento County Office of Education
    • Glenn Gorton – IT Client Services Director, Michigan Department of Education
    • Martin Horejsi – Associate Professor, University of Montana
    • Xiaobing Hou – Assistant Professor, Central Connecticut State University
    • Josh Klein – Chief Information Officer, Portland Public Schools (OR)
    • Randall Melton – Executive Director of IT, Lake Michigan College
    • Rodney Okamoto – IT Manager, California Department of Education
    • David Wu – Assistant Superintendent, Hawaii Department of Education
    • Jason Young – Data Manager – Longitudinal Data Systems, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education


The IT systems architecture will be updated periodically throughout the development of the assessment system. Revised documents will be available online and through an iPad application that ensures real-time access to the latest information. The application will allow users to access, bookmark, and share content—and will automatically download updates.

IT Systems Architecture Reports and Resources:

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