In the spring of 2015, California adopted new national assessments that measure students’ mastery of the standards in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11. The new assessments were written by a State-led agency known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Computer Based: Students take their test on a computer or tablet. Fresno Unified School District has been working hard to prepare students for this new format through practice of the interface and development of keyboarding skills. Smarter Balanced uses computer-adaptive questions that adjust according to the student’s answer on a previous question. If the student answers correctly, the computer delivers a more challenging question; if he replies incorrectly, he receives an easier question.

The new assessments require more writing and problem solving because they are designed to measure classroom skills and knowledge. In the past, state assessments typically tested information recall with multiple-choice questions, and students weren’t asked to apply higher-level thinking. But using process of elimination as a strategy won’t work anymore. On the new assessments, students have a series of choices requiring them to apply their mathematical thinking, for example, or to analyze a text and provide evidence for their reasoning. They use a mouse to drag and drop information, highlight, or manipulate, as well as keyboard written answers.

In addition to measuring students’ thinking and knowledge, the new assessments better inform teacher instruction. The computer-scored portions of the test are scored instantly and will help teachers adjust their curricula before school is out for the summer, as well as identify students who need extra help or summer programming.

Learn More

For more information, visit the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium website at

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