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Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium


Assembly Bill (AB) 484, which was signed by the Governor on October 2, 2013, requires all California local educational agencies (LEAs) to participate in the spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test.

AB 484 calls for the transition to a system of assessments and assessment tools that cover the full breadth and depth of the curriculum and promote the teaching of the full curriculum. This transition will take several years to complete.

For the 2013–14 school year, CalMAPP is comprised of the following:

  • Field test of the consortium (i.e., Smarter Balanced*) summative assessment for English–language arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades three through eight and grade eleven.
  • Grade-level science assessments, including the California Standards Tests (CSTs), California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), and the California Modified Assessment (CMA), in grades five, eight, and ten.
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for ELA and mathematics in grades two through eleven.
  • Voluntary for grade eleven students, the Early Assessment Program (EAP) in ELA and mathematics.
  • Optional for local educational agencies (LEAs) to administer, the Standards-based Tests in Spanish. (Further information about grade levels and subjects will be forthcoming.)


  1. What is the purpose of the spring 2014 Smarter Balanced Field Test (FT)?
    Field testing is critical to ensure that assessment items are accessible to all students and produce results that are valid, reliable, and fair. The spring 2014 Smarter Balanced FT will test the performance of over 20,000 newly developed test items and evaluate the test delivery system. Items deemed suitable for use on the live (i.e., operational) tests, which will begin in the 2014-15 school year, will be used to populate the test item bank. Also, the FT will help ensure that the Smarter Balanced assessment items are placed on an accurate scale to determine final achievement levels (i.e., cut scores) as well as their corresponding descriptors.
  2. Will individual student, school, or district score reports be generated from the FT?
    No. A field test is not designed to be a valid and reliable measure of student achievement; rather, it is designed to help the test developers evaluate whether the tests, individual items, and the technology platform work as intended before the first operational administration.  As a result, neither a state nor its LEAs are required to report field-test results—either individual student results to parents and teachers or on State or local ESEA report cards. In addition, AB 484 specifically prohibits the production of individual student scores from the FT unless they are determined to be valid and reliable.
  3. What role will the FT play in meeting state and/or federal accountability requirements?
    None. The data resulting from the FT will not be factored into any state or federal accountability calculations.
  4. Did the Smarter Balanced spring 2013 Pilot Test influence the FT?
    Yes. Data and survey results from the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test were used to inform the development of the FT, including but not limited to adjustments and improvements to: overall test design; estimated student testing time; test and item directions; item specifications; display of test items including associated pictures, graphs, or other materials;  interactive item types; and scoring rubrics.

LEA and Student Participation

  1. Who will take the FT? (updated 22-Nov-2013)
    AB 484 requires all California LEAs to participate in the FT. Student participation requirements are as follows:
  • Grades 3-8: All students are expected to participate.
  • Grades 9-10: Only students selected for the scientific sample are expected to participate.
  • Grade 11: All students selected for the scientific sample are expected to participate. All other students are encouraged to participate. (Please note that all grade eleven students, including those who participate in the FT, may participate in the Early Assessment Program.)

The only students exempt from participating in the Smarter Balanced FT are students who will take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) and, for the English-language arts (ELA) FT only, English learners who have attended school in the United States for less than 12 months.

  1. What are the benefits of participating in the spring 2014 FT?
    By participating in the Smarter Balanced FT, students, teachers, and administrators will receive valuable exposure to and experience with the California’s future assessment system. Students will gain hands-on experience with the functionality of innovative technology-enhanced items and newly designed performance tasks with related classroom activities. Teachers and administrators will gain valuable experience with administration logistics, which will help them better prepare for a smooth and successful participation in the operational assessments, which will begin in the 2014–15 school year. LEAs will benefit from learning where their technology gaps may be, enabling them to fully prepare for the operational assessments. California will benefit by having the diversity of its student population included in the analysis of test and item quality and development of achievement level scores and descriptors.
  2. Can LEAs volunteer to be included in the scientific sample of the FT?
    No. The scientific sample will be determined by the CDE and ETS.