The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium provides tests aligned with Common Core State Standards that are meant to help instructors address student weaknesses before their end-of-year testing. The company offers both traditional and online testing in 15 states.
Practice and training tests are provided first to acquaint students with the types of questions to expect on Common Core exams. These practice tests address grades three through eight and grade 11. These tests also familiarize students with the software that Smarter Balanced uses for its online testing. Because these are designed around familiarizing students with both question types as well as the software used, grading is not a component of these exams.
The Smarter Balanced Field Test examines student competency in a subjects such as English or Math. These tests are not timed, though students are expected to take no more than four hours to complete them. These tests are administered over several days and are also not scored. They are primarily used to identify which questions Smarter Balanced continues to use in the future.
The computer adaptive testing that Smarter Balanced performs uses software that adjusts to a student’s performance level. As the student does better, the difficulty of the testing elevates. As the student does worse, the difficulty declines. This helps to define a student’s performance level and establish his current maximum performance. These tests are performed throughout the year, provide feedback within a few weeks, and allow teachers to identify areas in which their students are struggling.