Get ready for the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Our 3rd- through 8th-grade and 11th-grade students will be taking the new Smarter Balanced Assessment between March 10 and May 29 (check with your school for exact dates), so you may be hearing about it from your child soon.

There's a lot that's new about the state assessments—everything from what's in the tests to how your child will be taking them—and we'll provide you with resources on that after the jump cut. But in the end, some things about testing will never change, like making sure your child gets a good night's sleep before the day of the test.

Here are a few things you can do:
  1. As mentioned, a full night of sleep is priceless.
  2. Provide a healthy breakfast that isn't too heavy or too loaded with sugar—being groggy or hyperactive won't help.
  3. Talk to them about the test. Are they nervous? What do they expect from the test?
  4. Get to school on time!
  5. Afterward, check in to see what they thought was easy and what was difficult. Emphasize that it's not about scores, but rather about understanding the material.


 What is the Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Because we have adopted a new curriculum with the Common Core State Standards, we needed a new assessment to measure what students have learned. The Smarter Balanced Assessment was developed so we can make sure all our students are prepared for college and a career by the time they graduate.


 What's happening with the Smarter Balanced Assessment for the 2014-15 school year?

This is the first year we will be using the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Students from third through eighth grade and high school juniors will be taking it on a computer or tablet, depending on their school site, and we estimate that the assessment will take around eight hours to complete. Students will take it in small time allotments, not all at once. Find out more about SBAC for the 2014-15 school year (Español | 中文).

Why are we using the Common Core State Standards?

In our fast-changing world, being ready for college and career involves having a very flexible kind of skill set—like a rope that can be used in many contexts. We need graduates who can adapt to new situations and apply what they know to unforeseen problems. The Common Core State Standards were designed to teach students how to weave together knowledge from different content areas, problem-solving skills, and the ability to communicate and work in teams. We will be putting more emphasis on giving students chances to integrate what they learn in various subjects, and we're excited to see this kind of excellent teaching become more and more common.

It's on a computer?

That's right, no more filling in bubbles with a 2B pencil. Having the assessment on a computer means that we aren't limited to multiple-choice questions—students will provide the reasoning behind their answer along with the answer. This way, we can be sure that someone who gets the right answer did so because they understand the basic concepts, not because they guessed correctly.

Students will need a basic level of technology skills. Check out what skills are needed by grade level (Español | 中文).

If you and your children would like to see how the test works, you can try out a practice test online. Review login instructions (Español | 中文) for accessing the test.

Further Resources

Learn more about the SBAC, other new assessments, and how we use information from assessment results at Assessing Student Learning.