Smarter Balanced Assessment

2014 will the next major change in our summative exams in West Virginia.

West Virginia is working with the “Smarter Balanced Consortium” and I put some links & information below to help you get a glimpse of (perhaps) where we are going.

Questions on Smarter Balanced

State of Washington info on Smarter Balanced


Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Overall Claim (Gr 3-8) – Students can demonstrate progress toward college and career readiness in English language arts and literacy.
Overall Claim (High School) – Students can demonstrate college and career readiness in English language arts and literacy.

Claim #1 – Students can read closely and analytically to comprehend a range of increasingly complex literary and informational texts.
Claim #2 – Students can produce effective and well-grounded writing for a range of purposes and audiences.

Claim #3 – Students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences.
Claim #4 – Students can engage in research/inquiry to investigate topics, and to analyze, integrate, and present information.


From the Content Specifications, here are the 5 core characteristics that inform the test development process through all its phases:

The proposed SBAC ELA & literacy assessments and the assessment system are shaped by a set of characteristics shared by the systems of high-achieving nations and states, and include the following principles (Darling-Hammond, 2010):

1) Assessments are grounded in a thoughtful, standards-based curriculum and are managed as part of an integrated system of standards, curriculum, assessment, instruction, and teacher development. Together, they guide teaching decisions, classroom-based assessment, and external assessment.

2) Assessments include evidence of student performance on challenging tasks that evaluate Common Core Standards of 21st century learning. Instruction and assessments seek to teach and evaluate knowledge and skills that generalize and can transfer to higher education and multiple work domains. They emphasize deep knowledge of core concepts and ideas within and across the disciplines, along with analysis, synthesis, problem solving, communication, and critical thinking. This kind of learning and teaching requires a focus on complex performances as well as the testing of specific concepts, facts, and skills.

3) Teachers are integrally involved in the development and scoring of assessments. While many assessment components can and will be efficiently and effectively scored with computer assistance, teachers will also be involved in the interim/benchmark, formative, and summative assessment systems so that they deeply understand and can teach the standards.

4) Assessments are structured to continuously improve teaching and learning. Assessment as, of, and for learning is designed to develop understanding of what learning standards are, what high-quality work looks like, what growth is occurring, and what is needed for student learning. This includes:

  • Developing assessments in a manner that allows teachers to see what students know and can do on multiple dimensions of learning and to strategically support their progress;
  • Using computer-based technologies to adapt assessments to student levels to more effectively measure what they know, so that teachers can target instruction more carefully and can evaluate growth over time;
  • Creating opportunities for students and teachers to get feedback on student learning throughout the school year, in forms that are actionable for improving success;
  • Providing curriculum-embedded assessments that offer models of good curriculum and assessment practice, enhance curriculum equity within and across schools, and allow teachers to see and evaluate student learning in ways that can feed back into instructional and curriculum decisions; and
  • Allowing close examination of student work and moderated teacher scoring as sources of ongoing professional development.

5) Assessment, reporting, and accountability systems provide useful information on multiple measures that is educative for all stakeholders. Reporting of assessment results is timely, specific, and vivid-offering specific information about areas of performance and examples of student responses along with illustrative benchmarks, so that teachers and students can follow up with targeted instruction. Multiple assessment opportunities (formative and interim/benchmark, as well as summative) offer ongoing information about learning and improvement. Reports to stakeholders beyond the school provide specific data, examples, and illustrations so that administrators and policymakers can more fully understand what students know in order to guide curriculum and professional development decisions.

For examples of the type of complex performance tasks being designed, visit the New York Regents site for released tests and view the Comprehensive ELA Test for high school, a test where students complete several rich and challenging performance pieces: Click Here Link.

One bedrock principle of SBAC is the importance of involving teachers in every aspect of the test development process. Therefore, SBAC will develop a system of professional development focused on assessment literacy. To support curricular goals, including expected learning progressions, the Consortium will develop formative assessment tools related to curriculum and lesson development, as well as scoring and examination of student work. Because a key element of SBAC’s professional learning approach for educators is to engage teachers directly in developing and scoring SBAC assessments, teachers and administrators will be asked to contribute to the item and performance event banks and participate in the moderated scoring process.