Smarter Balanced “interim assessments” finally released

January 30, 2015

Students at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland taking computer based tests.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has finally released the “interim assessments” schools can use to gauge how well their students are doing in math and English language arts instruction aligned with the Common Core standards. Districts that are using the assessments will now have access through a secure browser on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress website (

The assessments are optional tests schools can administer  in advance of the end-of-the year or “summative” Smarter Balanced assessments that students in grades 3 through 9 and the 11th grade will take this spring.

Initially, the consortium, charged with coming up with a range of Common Core aligned tests, was set to release the interim tests last fall. The timeline was then pushed back to December. Luci Willits, the consortium’s deputy executive director, told EdSource Today that the delay was related to the fact that teachers were not finished vetting the test questions until the end of October.

Test designers also had to respond to late requests by state officials and others about how to fine tune ways to score essay portions of the computer-based tests.

“Ideally, it would have been best to have the interim items available in the fall, but circumstances prohibited the rollout earlier,” Willis wrote.

Interim assessments are intended to give teachers feedback on how well their students are learning Common Core concepts. That information can help teachers tailor their instruction to the needs of individual students.

The Smarter Balanced consortium described the interim assessments as “one of the three major components” of its assessment system.

In addition to the annual “summative assessments” that students will take in the spring, teachers are also encouraged to use “formative assessment” tools and practices.  These are less structured classroom projects and exercises intended to give teachers – and parents and students – an idea of how students are doing in specific areas of math and English language arts. That information helps shape the instruction that students will receive throughout the years.

There are two types of interim assessments that are optional but recommended by the Smarter Balanced consortium  – the Interim Comprehensive Assessment and Interim Block Assessments. For more details on the interim assessments, go to the Smarter Balanced website here. 


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