Achievement level descriptors (ALDs) are a means of describing performance on a standardized test in terms of levels or categories of performance. Smarter Balanced reports scores relative to four levels of performance, where level 3 reflects on track or at college and career ready, level 4 reflects performance that exceed college and career ready expectations for a grade level, and levels 1 and 2 fall below the proficient level. This document lays out 4 stages of ALD development that progressively define what is expected of students that perform at each level.
- Policy ALDs provide high level descriptors of the goals at rigor expected at each level.
- Range ALDs provide grade and content-specific descriptors that are used by test developers to develop test items.
- Threshold ALDs, developed with or following the range ALDs, define the minimum performance expected at each achievement level and thus describe the performance expectations that are thought to differentiate one performance level from the next.
- Reporting ALDs “are the final ALDs that are developed following standard setting” and are intended to reflect actual student test performance and the knowledge, skills, and processes that the test scores show that students know and can do.
Note that this document is labeled as initial; however, the tables of ALDs found throughout the document provide relevant details on content claims and specifications and what is expected for different levels of performance at each assessment target. While these ALDs are not intended to provide guidance to classroom teachers for curriculum or individual student decision-making, users can see what performance is expected for students at level 3 (i.e., on track).