Smarter Balanced Strategic Plan: Maintaining Quality, Exploring Innovation

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(FEBRUARY 1, 2018) During a yearlong process, Smarter Balanced member states collaborated to build a five-year Strategic Plan that guides the Consortium to maintain its high-quality assessment system while also continuing to innovate and evolve in response to a changing education strategic plan coverlandscape. The Strategic Plan 2017-2022 can be downloaded here.

Based on conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders, Consortium members identified current and future opportunities for Smarter Balanced that informed the development of the Strategic Plan’s five goals.

“There are three key points to the development of the Strategic Plan,” said Abby Javurek, Chair of the Smarter Balanced Executive Committee and Director of Accountability Systems for the South Dakota Department of Education.

“First, we built this Strategic Plan as a partnership with member states. And that’s something to be proud of. Second, the core of the Strategic Plan focuses on how we’re maintaining Smarter Balanced as a quality system. That’s important. We didn’t back down on quality and you see that reflected in the plan.

“And third, we continue to innovate toward the future and have aligned the budget to be responsive and to be ahead of the game. That’s the big value.”

Smarter Balanced is committed to providing educators with meaningful, actionable information and resources to guide teaching and learning. That serves as the foundation for the organization’s vision, mission and beliefs, said Executive Director Tony Alpert.

The Strategic Plan’s five goals are to:

  • Maintain and continually improve a high-quality and rigorous system of assessments.
  • Provide educators, policymakers, students and their families with robust and actionable information on student performance and the tools and resources to improve instruction.
  • The capacity to understand and articulate Smarter Balanced’s unique value to diverse constituents.
  • Improve organizational capacity to support state-led efforts to communicate and advocate for Smarter Balanced’s value.
  • Maintain Smarter Balanced’s position as a leader in innovative assessment design.

Goal 5 serves as the Strategic Plan’s long-term vision by prioritizing resources for ongoing research and development for new, innovative assessments (e.g., applied work-setting assessments, curriculum-embedded assessments) based on its current assessment system.

Additionally, Goal 5 calls for Smarter Balanced to research, refine and prioritize ways create a competency-based assessment to support states that are pursuing a shift toward competency-based learning.

“Smarter Balanced member states created the Consortium because they were committed to innovation and developing a next-generation assessment,” Alpert said. “Even as Smarter Balanced continues to develop the best summative assessment and teaching tools for today’s needs in our schools, we will work hard to anticipate and support evolving policymaker and educator needs.”

Please see our Members and Governance page for additional Strategic Plan resources.