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In 2010, Wisconsin elected to join the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of the two national consortia that were formed to help establish a series of “next generation assessments” to measure students’ career and college readiness.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness. Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the 2014-15 school year.

The work of Smarter Balanced is guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system can provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help students succeed – regardless of disability, language or subgroup. Smarter Balanced involves experienced educators, researchers, state and local policymakers and community groups working together in a transparent and consensus-driven process. Wisconsin is a governing state of this state-led consortium and has representatives from Wisconsin’s K-12 and higher education sectors.

The components of the Smarter Balanced Assessment include:

1.  A summative assessment administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year (measuring students’ cumulative progress from the past school year). Smarter summative assessments are administered in English Language Arts (ELA)  and Mathematics for grades 3-8.The summative assessment will consist of two parts: a computer adaptive test, and performance tasks that will be taken on a computer but will not be computer-adaptive. The summative assessment will:

  • Accurately describe both student achievement and growth of student learning as part of program evaluation and school, district, and state accountability systems;
  • Provide valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress toward, and attainment of, the knowledge and skills required to be college- and career-ready; and
  • Capitalize on the strengths of computer-adaptive testing—efficient and precise measurement across the full range of achievement, and quick turnaround of results.

2.  Optional interim assessments administered at locally determined intervals. These assessments will provide educators with actionable information about student progress throughout the year. Like the summative assessment, the interim assessments will be computer-adaptive and include performance tasks. The interim assessments will:

  • Help teachers, students, and parents understand whether students are on track, and identify strengths and limitations in relation to the Common Core State Standards;
  • Be fully accessible for instruction and professional development; and

3. Formative assessment practices and strategies (measuring students’ understanding and progress periodically throughout the school year) are the basis for a digital library of professional development materials, resources, and tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced claims and assessment targets. Research-based instructional tools will be available on-demand to help teachers address learning challenges and differentiate instruction. The digital library will include professional development materials related to all components of the assessment system, such as scoring rubrics for performance tasks.

4A secureonline reporting system that provides assessment results to students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The reports generated will show student achievement and progress toward mastery of the Common Core State Standards.


What's New


Achievement Level Setting Online Panel - Wisconsin is currently recruiting almost 700 educators for the achievement level setting online panel. Panelists will choose a 2-day window between October 6 and 17, 2014, for participation. To register for this opportunity go to


Notifications for participation in the In Person Panel for achievement level setting has gone out to those selected.  If you were not selected please consider participating in the very important online panel phase of achievement level setting. 

Smarter Field Testing -

The Field Test evaluate the performance of more than 20,000 assessment items and performance tasks—as well as the performance of the online testing system. The Field Test took place from mid March to early June this year. About 20% of Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 participated. 


Schools and districts did not get any data back from field testing.  Data from the Field Test are used by Smarter to set preliminary achievement standards during the fall of 2014.

Smarter Pilot Testing -

The Smarter Balanced Pilot Test, which occurred between February 20 and May 24, 2013, marked an important milestone in the development of a next-generation assessment system, allowing the Consortium to gather information about the performance of assessment items and the test delivery system under real-world conditions. More than 5,000 schools in the Consortium’s 21 Governing States participated in the Pilot Test.


Around 300 Wisconsin schools participated in pilot test. K-12 teachers and higher education faculty from Smarter Governing States collaborated with content experts to write and review items and performance tasks that appeared on the Pilot Test. 


Quick Contacts


Smarter Help Desk




DPI Contacts


Viji Somasundaram

Assessment Program Coordinator



Jennifer Teasdale

Education Program Specialist



Kristen Burton

Accommodations and Supports



Audrey Lesondak

Assessment for ELLs



Phil Cranley

Data, Student Demographics and Privacy Issues



Duane Dorn

Test Security




Smarter Website



For questions about this information, contact