Sample Questions

Screenshot of Sample Items Website home page

Click to visit the Sample Items website.

To explore and interact with sample questions just as students encounter them on a Smarter Balanced assessments, please visit the Sample Items website. The Sample Items site features:

  • An interactive guide with descriptions and examples of the types of items used on Smarter Balanced assessments;
  • Search filters to quickly find items based on grade, subject, or item type;
  • Additional details for teachers, such as claims, targets, rubrics and scoring information;
  • The ability to share items with others; and
  • Accessibility settings that are used on Smarter Balanced assessments.

These samples are intended to illustrate the rigor and complexity of the English language arts and math items and performance tasks used on Smarter Balanced assessments, as well as help teachers, administrators, and policymakers get a snapshot of Smarter Balanced questions. Although the items and performance tasks are not intended to be used as sample tests, educators can use them to better understand how Smarter Balanced measures college- and career-ready content.

You can also explore the Practice Tests for a simulated test experience, useful for teachers and students to gain experience with the test software

Go to the Sample Items Website!

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We witnessed firsthand how the new assessments will challenge students to think critically and problem solve.Parent from Hawaii

Types of Questions

The Smarter Balanced assessment system includes a variety of question types:

  • Selected-response items prompt students to select one or more responses for a set of options.
  • Non-traditional response questions take advantage of computer-based administration to assess a deeper understanding of content and skills than would otherwise be possible with traditional item types. These kinds of questions might include drag-and-drop, editing text, or drawing an object.
  • Constructed-response questions prompt students to produce a text or numerical response in order to collect evidence about their knowledge or understanding of a given assessment target.
  • Performance tasks measure a student’s ability to demonstrate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Performance tasks challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to complex real-world problems. They can be best described as collections of questions and activities that are coherently connected to a single theme or scenario. These activities are meant to measure capacities such as depth of understanding, writing and research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with traditional assessment questions. The performance tasks are taken on a computer (but are not computer adaptive) and will take one to two class periods to complete.

Learn more about Item Types

The process of developing items for Smarter Balanced assessments includes collaboration among K–12 teachers, college professors, researchers, bias and sensitivity experts, and content experts. This video shows how performance tasks are created.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sample items and performance tasks are intended to help teachers, administrators, and policymakers implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and prepare for Smarter Balanced assessments.
The sample items and tasks are meant to illustrate the rigor and complexity students encounter on the Smarter Balanced assessments. They also show the different types of questions that appear on the assessments, including: selected-response; constructed response; technology-enhanced; and performance tasks. While these items and tasks may be included in the non-secure interim assessments, they are not part of the secure summative assessments.
The sample items and tasks are not intended to be used as practice tests. However, educators can use them to plan the shifts in instruction required to help students meet the demands of the new assessments.
Performance tasks are extended activities that measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards—a key component of college and career readiness. Performance tasks will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected-or short constructed-response items. Some performance tasks can be scored automatically; many will be hand-scored by professionally trained readers.

These tasks are delivered as part of the interim and summative components of the assessment system, with more extended tasks available in the Digital Library as part of the Smarter-developed exemplar instructional modules and inventory of currently available resources.

Smarter Balanced worked with educators to write and review items and tasks. Detailed item and task specifications, training modules for item developers, and sample items and performance tasks ensured that each question is aligned with approved content claims, assessment targets, and the Common Core State Standards.
Smarter Balanced is committed to providing valid, fair, and reliable measures of achievement and growth for English language learners and students with disabilities and has developed a wide array of resources to help all students demonstrate what they know. The sample items and tasks do not include these accessibility tools and accommodation options, but the Practice and Training Tests do include all of these features. Please see Accessibility and Accommodations for more information on these features.