What is Smart Balanced Assessment? (SBAC)
Many parents feel like there are a million tasks and activities to keep up with as their child goes through the schooling system. The SBAC test might sound like just another complication in the Mission Impossible task of raising an intelligent child, but don’t panic.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s (SBAC) tests are good. The SBAC tests are used across the United States to measure students’ progress and readiness for college and/or their career goals. For younger grades, this is just a yardstick to measure where your child is scoring on their basic skill levels.
In higher grade levels, SBAC tests are used to help students prepare for college acceptance, which is why we recommend practicing with JobTestPrep’s great SBAC practice tests.
Therefore, practicing, preparing, and understanding the SBAC tests will aid your child’s future success and development – and that’s not so bad, is it?
Table of Contents
What Is the SBAC Assessment?
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was designed by a group of experienced educators from across the United States. You can trust that the Assessment was created by experts who know what to test for.
If your child has any learning barriers or difficulties, the SBAC is designed to detect those weaknesses so that they can be readdressed in the classroom – ‘no child left behind, remember?’
The SBAC tests are offered in three different forms. All are meant to track students’ progress and aid their readiness for future college paths and careers. The three forms of testing are:
- Formative Assessment (early grade level testing)
- Interim Assessment (completed throughout the year)
- Summative Assessment (completed at the end of the year)
SBAC Formative Assessments
These tests are designed by individual teachers using the SBAC’s digital library resources. These resources help center and standardize the assessments.
Teachers use these assessments for feedback about class material and pace – they need a system to measure if all the students are developing correctly.
SBAC Interim Assessments
Unlike the Formative Assessments, the Interim and Summative tests are aligned with the Common Core Curriculum. Meaning all students nationwide take the same assessments.
The Interim Assessments are optional midyear tests that can be given multiple times throughout the school year at a teacher’s discretion. These assessment tests allow educators to evaluate student progress and adjust their curriculum to meet the changing needs of their classroom.
As the SBAC understands that each classroom and each child learns at their own pace, the tests only aim to confirm that every child is ready for the next phase of learning and growing in the curriculum. The optional periodic tests analyze students’ grade-specific math and language skills.
But we’ll discuss more on topics, questions, and test formats for each grade soon.
SBAC Summative Assessments
Like the Interim Assessments, this testing is aligned with the Common Core Curriculum.
At this stage in school, the SBAC tracks how students progress toward their academic goals. Students and teachers use these assessments to track progress from year to year, as well as to compare individual students on a nationwide scale.
Summative Assessments in 2023 are often administered as the mandatory end-of-the-year tests that colleges may eventually use to gauge student readiness to attend higher-level learning. Thus, the SBAC Summative Assessments are the most crucial of the SBAC tests to prepare for.
This Assessment allows teachers to measure a student’s readiness for college and career through math and English literacy. Since a child who cannot comprehend basic language or mathematics may not be able to understand other content.
The summative assessment consists of two parts:
- the computer adaptive test
- and the performance task.
Both test sections require a student to solve real-world mathematical problems and demonstrate their writing abilities—the summative assessment measures test-takers for college readiness. Therefore what students need to learn to succeed in academics is also what is present on the test.
The SBAC unites learning and testing to not only measure but improve writing skills and mathematics across America
What Content Is in the SBAC Assessment?
Individual schools and teachers administer the SBAC, so much of the content may differ to suit each classroom.
The two focus areas for the SBAC are Mathematics and English – referred to as ‘Math’ and ‘English Language Arts.’
The Math Performance Task section requires:
- Students have to solve one multi-step, real-world mathematical problem.
- Completing this section usually takes between 1 hour to 1.5 hours – depending on the grade level.
- The test is untimed – meaning each student can work at their own pace
The math (CAT) Section requires:
- The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) section of this test is adaptive to the student’s input
- The Math question difficulty changes based on given responses.
- Technology-enhanced questions are another aspect of the SBAC’s effort to develop more adaptable state standards for education.
- This section is untimed, but it takes 1-1.5 hours to complete on average.
SBAC (ELA) English Language Arts
The ELA Performance Task section requires:
- Students are asked to write an essay as part of the Performance Tasks
- The essay may be argumentative, explanatory, informational, narrative, or opinion-based.
- This section usually takes about 2 hours to complete, but it is an untimed test
The English Language Arts (CAT) Section requires:
- The ELA Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) section of the test utilizes various question formats, such as multiple-choice, highlight, checkboxes, true or false, and short text.
- The CAT adjusts the difficulty of the questions depending on student responses.
- The test also utilizes automated essay scoring, which helps standardize the results and Assessment
- This section is untimed and, on average, takes 2 hours to complete.
SBAC Grade Levels
There appear to be three phases of SBAC testing:
Initial assessments begin in grades 3-5. They continue in grade levels 6-8 and then finish in high school, in the 11th grade.
Though each grade doesn’t complete each Assessment, all grade levels take the SBAC Summative Assessment during the springtime.
Students who score well on the SBAC test in grades 3–8 may be eligible for accelerated programs. This is how Computer Adaptive Testing can elevate and improve gifted students’ education, and this is a wonderful opportunity for individual students to learn at their own pace.
All students in 11th grade must pass the test with an achievement level of 3 or higher to graduate. A score of 3 or less indicates a student is unready to continue in their curriculum, and they need time to catch up to the required skill level of seniors and first-year college students.
SBAC Testing Format
We’ve already discussed how there are three types of SBAC standardized tests (formative, interim and summative)
Then there are two sections to each Assessment: a Performance Task (PT) and a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT)
The above sections test students in Mathematics (Math) and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA).
The Smarter Balanced test content focuses on a list of predetermined benchmarks that are designed to track and measure student readiness for college and careers across the United States.
You can also check our study guides on NWEA MAP Test for grade 5, CAT 4 Level A, CAT 4 Level D and CAT 4 Level G exams which are also computer adaptive tests used to see students’ progress and help them choose future college paths and careers.
SBAC Assessment Scores
Smarter Balanced Assessments are scored using scale scores and achievement levels.
- Scale scores show a student’s level of performance in a numerical value ranging between 2000 and 3000.
- These scores are used to track individual students’ progress from year to year.
- Scale scores can also be used to compare students within a school, other districts, and states across a nationwide scale.
- These scales help inform educators on common core state standards that their students are either achieving or failing.
- Achievement levels represent a student’s SBAC scores within predetermined benchmark categories that illustrate a student’s skill-set and knowledge.
- These levels range from 1–4, but each state has its own method of classifying the levels, and so these can differ.
- For example, level 1 might be classified as novice/beginner, and level 4 might be classified as advanced.
- By 11th grade, achievement levels are meant to show if a student has, in fact, reached a level of readiness for either path – college or career.
- Students in 11th grade must score an achievement level of 3 or higher to be considered college and career ready.
- The levels (1-4) are referred to as novice, developing, proficient, and advanced.
SBAC Practice Tests and Sample Questions
Now that we’ve pulled back the curtain on the SBAC content, evaluation, and scoring, it should be no surprise that one needs to prepare well for the SBAC.
Practice tests are a key element of preparation, as practice tests help align the learning standard with the learning process – when you study by taking tests, it results in better test performance. We recommend JobTestPrep and its incredible services.
SBAC tests are a crucial component of the US schooling system, and SBAC practice tests are a proper form of preparation. To ensure your child achieves their academic goals, they must properly prepare for the SBAC Summative Assessments.
Preparation reduces test anxiety and boosts student confidence with access to realistic SBAC testing examples. Practicing also helps identify critical proficiency gaps in Math & ELA Standards before the test is taken so that these gaps can be addressed before the actual test.
What States are Using SBAC Assessments?
Many states are subject to the SBAC, and below is a full alphabetical list of every state signed to the Common Core Curriculum:
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
There are also additional states that are affiliated with the SBAC but do not administer any SBAC assessments.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.