Analysis of 2017 Test Scores Finds No Issues With the Test

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Screen shot of "Summary of 2017 Test Score Analysis"An analysis of 2017 test scores from Smarter Balanced member states found no technical issues with the assessment, Smarter Balanced announced today. The results of the analysis were affirmed by the Smarter Balanced Technical Advisory Committee and by the Center for Assessment, which conducted an independent review.

“Based on the analysis, we believe that the test scores accurately describe what students knew and were able to do in spring 2017 related to the learning standards,” Smarter Balanced Executive Director Tony Alpert said.

The release of spring 2017 Smarter Balanced test scores showed that student gains plateaued from 2016. That led some to question the accuracy of the results and the test. In response, Smarter Balanced conducted a series of analyses to investigate the possibility of technical problems with the 2017 test.

Smarter Balanced’s technical analysis focused on seven questions, highlighted in a 3-page summary. The Center for Assessment’s independent review concurred with the findings in the technical analysis.


The first question in the technical analysis asked, “How did students perform in 2017 compared to 2016?” The report found that students, on average, performed slightly worse in English language arts/literacy and slightly better in math in 2017 compared to 2016. The ELA decrease, across all grades and states, was 1 percent, while the math increase was 1 percent. From 2015 to 2017, the percent of proficient students increased by about 3 percent in ELA and math.

“This analysis confirmed that we need to continue to support our teachers more,” said Abby Javurek, chair of the Smarter Balanced Executive Committee and Director, Division of Accountability Systems for the South Dakota Department of Education. “The deeper skills demanded by the content standards, as measured by the test, need a more strategic approach to instructional supports.”

Smarter Balanced annually releases a comprehensive technical report on each year’s assessment. The archive of previous years’ technical reports can be found here under the Technical Documentation tab. The full technical report for the 2016-17 assessment will be released in summer 2018.

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