The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, is an association dedicated to providing students, parents, and educators with standardized tests. More specifically, the SBAC creates tests that align with the Common Core State Standards. Since 2010, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has helped develop and score standardized tests in states all over the country.

Starting in 2015, the SBAC began assessing students in grades 3 through 11. These tests assess a student’s abilities in Math and Language Arts (English). While the SBAC is not implemented in every state, it does have numerous member states. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the SBAC assessments, including study tips, test content, scoring, the best SBAC practice test, and much more. But first, let’s look at some of the best SBAC assessment resources available online.

How to Study for the Smarter Balanced Assessment

When it comes to studying, everyone has different needs, timelines, and study habits. That said, there are plenty of great SBAC assessment resources to get you started out on the right foot. If you’re searching for ways to prepare for the SBAC assessment, check out some of the following resources:

Official SBAC Assessment Resources

One of the best ways to prepare for an exam is to get information directly from the test administrators. For the SBAC assessment, this means consulting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which has been testing and scoring students for nearly a decade. Here are a few helpful links provided by the SBAC:

Free SBAC Practice Test Resources

In addition to official resources, there are a number of valuable practice tests available to students for free online. These tests can vary in certain respects, but they all provide an accurate representation of the SBAC assessment, so it’s a good idea to check out more than one:

Free SBAC Assessment Study Guides

Taking SBAC practice tests will help you know what to expect, but many people require additional guidance to build positive study habits. Thankfully, there are several comprehensive study guides available online. These links will compliment and guide your SBAC assessment study plan, with absolutely no cost to you:

Free SBAC Assessment Flashcards

In order to get a high score on the SBAC Assessment, you will need to retain a lot of information. Flashcards are a great way to learn new information and recall important facts during the test. Let’s take a look at a few of the best free SBAC flashcard resources available:

Exam Outline - What’s On the SBAC Assessment?

Needless to say, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the SBAC assessment, but it is extremely important that you know what to expect on the day of the test. In addition to knowing the types of questions on the test, you will also want to know how the SBAC assessment is administered, your allotted time, and all of the DO’s and DON’Ts for the test day.

It is also important to note that the SBAC assessment varies by state. To better understand how each state administers the SBAC assessment, create an account on the official SBAC website and click on the test details for your state right here. While every state’s SBAC assessment covers the same topics, the formats vary slightly and may feature greater emphasis on certain topics and question types over others.

Each SBAC assessment is also unique to a student’s grade level. The tests are meant to evaluate the level of a student’s math and language abilities at various ages, so the questions and difficulty vary accordingly. However, no matter the state or grade level, there are two different categories of SBAC assessment available to educators:

The Optional Periodic Test (Interim Assessment)

Though optional, this SBAC assessment can be administered throughout the year, at the teacher and/or school’s discretion. These assessment tests allow educators to evaluate student progress and adjust their curriculum to meet the changing needs of their classroom. Like other SBAC assessments, the optional periodic test analyzes students on grade-specific math and language skills. You can learn more about topics, questions, and test formats for each grade level right here.

Summative Assessment (The End-of-Year Test)

The SBAC summative assessment allows educators to evaluate a student’s readiness for college and career through math and English literacy. While similar in design to the optional periodic tests, the summative assessment consists of two parts: the computer adaptive test and the performance task. The test requires students to solve real world mathematical problems that require multiple steps. Additionally, the summative assessment requires students to demonstrate their writing abilities.

SBAC Assessment Administration

Member states coordinate with the SBAC to properly administer SBAC assessments. However, administration is ultimately handled by individual schools, administrators, and/or educators. This means that the exact process will vary for each student, depending on their location, school, and teacher. Though the summative assessment is only administered once annually, the periodic test can be administered throughout the year.

What Happens During the SBAC Assessment?

As previously stated, the specific testing experience will vary for each student. That said, every test is administered in a computerized format at a participating school or testing facility. This guarantees that the content of each test remains consistent for every student in a given grade level. Both the periodic test and the summative assessment are administered in the same way. For more information on test administration, consult the Department of Education website for your state.

Who is Eligible to Take the SBAC Assessment?

SBAC assessment eligibility is dependent on grade level and state membership. The SBAC assessment is administered to students starting in the 3rd grade. Any student that has not reached the 3rd grade will not be eligible. The cut-off for SBAC assessment administration is the 11th grade. This means that any student in their senior year of high school will no longer be eligible to take the test.

The SBAC assessment is only administered in affiliate member states. Not every state participates in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. If the state in which you live does not participate in the SBAC, you will not be eligible to take the test.

SBAC Assessment Scores - How Are They Calculated?

SBAC assessment scores are reported in two separate ways: scaled scores and achievement levels. The scaled score is a more traditional score that gives students, parents, and educators a quantitative measurement of a student’s abilities. This numerical score falls on a scale from about 2000 to 3000, with the numbers accumulating after the completion of each subsequent grade level. As a student takes more SBAC assessments, these numerical scores will show their progress over time.

The scaled score is then used to determine a student’s achievement level. There are 4 levels that each encompass a range of scores. A student’s level is a good indication of their broader knowledge base and college/career readiness. For more information on SBAC scoring, consult this link.

SBAC Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re still unsure about what to expect from the test, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about the SBAC Assessment:

Which states participate in the SBAC?

As of 2019, there are 17 member states whose students are eligible to take the SBAC assessment. These states include 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. Even if you don’t live in a Smarter Balanced state or territory, you can try out an SBAC practice test.

How many SBAC assessments will I need to take?

The answer to this question will depend on your specific curriculum. Some teachers administer multiple periodic tests throughout the year, while others only use the summative test annually. There are also various SBAC practice tests available for students to hone their skills. That said, most students in member states will take at least nine SBAC assessments throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

How do educators prepare students for the SBAC assessment?

Most educators will tell you that cultivating students’ knowledge and skills is more important than preparing for tests. However, SBAC assessments are unique insofar as they test general knowledge and working skills in math and English literacy. This means that getting a well-rounded education using the Common Core State Standards is one of the best ways to prepare for the SBAC assessment. 

Additionally, teachers in member states are provided with a wide range of educational resources via the Digital Library. These resources help teachers keep students focused on cultivating math and language skills for the long-term. To learn more about the Digital Library and other vital resources, check out the SBAC website.

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