About the test
The Smarter Balanced member states, including Washington, have approved a set of recommendations on achievement levels that help to describe student performance on the new assessments. The achievement levels serve as a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and of groups of students in English language arts (ELA) and math. There are other measures that students, teachers, and parents can also use to help evaluate the academic progress of students and schools, such as scale scores, growth models, and portfolios of student work. Smarter Balanced tests align to the new K-12 learning standards in English language arts and math (Common Core), which are more difficult than previous standards. As with any change, there will be a period of adjustment as teachers and students get used to the new standards and tests. Lower proficiency rates do not necessarily mean that schools are performing worse or that students are learning less. It means the tests have changed and are measuring different skills. Smarter Balanced tests have been specifically developed to measure real-world skills that students will need when they graduate. We expect this dip in proficiency to be temporary.