Understanding Smarter Balanced Assessments


    The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are part of the state testing program called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress or CAASPP. 

    The CAASPP System is designed to give information to teachers, students, and their families about what students know and are able to do and whether they re on track to be ready for success in college or career when they graduate from high school.


    Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments

    Who :  All students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11 are tested.

    What : Tests students’ knowledge and skills in English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics.

    How : The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are computer adaptive. The online tests give students many different types of questions that allow them to interact with the test questions. For some of the math questions, for example, your child might be asked to drag and drop things from one place on the screen to another or draw a graph to solve a problem. Computer-adaptive tests adjust the difficulty of the questions based on the answers that students give. As students answer questions correctly, they receive more challenging questions. Incorrect answers trigger easier questions. This helps keep the test short for many students and makes sure the scores are very accurate, especially for students who score very low or very high.

    When : Each school selects its own testing window. Testing can begin as early as January and continue through the last day of school. You will receive additional information from your school about the specific days and times of testing.

    Why : Test results are one piece of information about how your child is doing in school. Together with report cards and other information, test results tell us if your child is on track to succeed in higher grades and is ready for college and career. For students in grade eleven, these results are used by some colleges in California to decide how ready students are for college-level classes.


    Do students with disabilities take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments?

    Yes. Students with disabilities take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, unless they have an active individualized education program (IEP) that designates an alternate assessment.

    What resources are available for students?

    All students have access to various accessibility tools they might need when taking the test, like a calculator on some math problems, a glossary when taking the reading part of the test, or a highlighter that they can use to highlight important parts of a long paragraph. Students with disabilities have additional supports such as American Sign Language videos or Braille. All of the accessibility resources help students gain fair access to the test and do not affect the students’ scores in any way.


    How can I help my child get ready for the test?

    You are an important part of your child’s education. Some things you can do to help your child are:

    „ Discuss the test with your child. Make sure they are not scared or anxious.

    „ Tell your child that you and their teacher have high expectations and that you are both there to help them every step of the way.

    „ Take a practice test with your child. Practice tests can be found at http://www.caaspp.org/practice-and-training/index.html.

    „ Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and has a nutritious breakfast before testing.

    „ Review test results with your child and discuss with their teacher where they might need additional help. „ Visit http://www.testscoreguide.org/ca for additional information about your child’s score and to see sample test items.


    Additional Information

    More information about the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments can be found on the California Department of Education Summative Assessments Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/sbacsummative.asp. Your child’s teacher or principal is the best place to start if you have other questions about testing or available accessibility resources.