Smarter Balanced: Summative Assessment Resources

This collection brings together and organizes documents that Smarter Balanced created to guide their development processes for summative assessments. These documents also provide information that can help educators understand what summative tests assess, so that educators can better prepare their students for success.

Smarter Balanced used evidence-centered design (ECD) processes to create their tests to support the summative assessments' strong alignment to the Common Core. This sequential process provides a series of documents that progressively clarify what will be assessed and how.

Content Specifications

Content specifications reorganize the standards into the major claims that the assessments address. They help educators understand the specific assessment targets and evidence that may be used to assess each claim. The resources in this section address the conception and major claims about student learning that Smarter Balanced’s summative assessments are designed to evaluate. 

Three sets of resources for English language arts and mathematics provide complimentary views of the conceptual foundation for Smarter Balanced assessments. These include a definition of the major claims the summative tests are designed to address, the assessment targets that comprise each claim, and descriptions of the achievement levels Smarter Balanced uses to classify student performance at one of four levels of being on track or college ready.

Practice Tests and Sample Items and Tasks

The resources in this section provide illustrative assessments that teachers and students can use to get acquainted to the kinds of thinking and reasoning students will have to apply when responding to Smarter Balanced items and tasks. Additionally, scoring guides provide examples of how various item types are scored.

Accessibility, Accommodations, and Sensitivity

The resources in this section describe the accessibility tools that are universally available to all students, and the supports and accommodations that are made a available to English language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities with identified needs.

Policy Guidelines and Practices
Learn more about the concepts of universal design, accessibility, bias, and sensitivity, and how these concepts have guided the design of a variety of tools, designated supports, and accommodations that are available as part of the Smarter Balanced system of assessments.
Item and Task Development and Review
Explore how Smarter Balanced uses key considerations related to the concepts of universal design, accessibility, bias, and sensitivity to develop and review items and tasks.

Professional Development for Item Writers

The following resources, which are also referenced in other parts of the collection, were developed to build educators' capacity to develop and review items and tasks for the Smarter Balanced Summative assessment. These resources describe how educators have been involved in test development and provide opportunities for future participation.

Score Reporting

The Smarter Balanced Assessment System reports two scores as part of students' results: Scale Scores and Achievement Levels. A student's Scale Score provides the number score a student receives on an assessment. The Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) allow educators and parents to interpret a student's level of proficiency. The following resources provide information that can be used to interpret students' assessment performance.

District and School Implementation Guidance

Smarter Balanced has created resources to support school and district implementation of its assessment system.