Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Smarter Balanced Assessment

To help students on the pathway for success after high school, Washington adopted career- and college-ready learning standards, which define what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

In Washington, we measure how students and schools are doing in meeting these standards with the Smarter Balanced assessment. The assessment measures knowledge and skills that are important to students' futures, including problem-solving, critical thinking and writing. The assessments are one tool to help students and parents better understand how students are progressing and help teachers better direct additional help or accelerated learning. Taking the Smarter Balanced assessment helps students know if they are on track to be ready for work or college. 

Top 5 Facts About WA's K-12 Learning Standards & Assessments

Real-world skills

Washington’s learning standards and assessments focus on real-world skills that students are learning and practicing in the classroom every day such as problem-solving, critical thinking and writing.

Closing gaps

The assessments help identify achievement gaps and allow school districts and the state to place resources where they are needed the most.

Testing is just one measure

State testing is one of several indicators; in combination with report cards, teacher feedback and classroom work used to create a complete picture of a student’s progress in school.

The right stuff

Washington’s state learning standards and the aligned assessments are designed to prepare students for college, work, and life.

Accessible for all students

The Smarter Balanced tests are designed to accommodate all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners.


Your Child's Progress

Use this one-page handout to understand what students are expected to learn by grade level. The handout is translated in in the nine most-spoken languages in the state. 

SBA Practice Test 

Take a SBA practice test online for free to become familiar with the system, functionality and item types. If an item appears to be too difficult, encourage students to experiment with the tools, choose the best answer and move on to the next item.


Smarter Balanced Assessment FAQs

Why do we need assessments like Smarter Balanced?

The Smarter Balanced assessments are aligned to what students are learning in the class. These tests serve as independent, objective measures of how students are doing and whether they are on track to master skills like problem solving and critical thinking that they will need to succeed after high school. Clear, understandable test scores help students, teachers, and parents work together to adjust their approach and better meet students’ needs. The Smarter Balanced assessments also provide data that we use to determine, for example, what’s working in special education, or whether race- or income-based achievement gaps continue to persist

What are the benefits of taking the Smarter Balanced assessment?

Smarter Balanced assessments are designed to measure what students really know and can do, so they are an important tool to help students and parents better understand if kids are on track for success after high school. The assessments can show if a student needs extra help or accelerated learning opportunities. The ultimate goal is to ensure that students graduate with options and a foundation of skills and knowledge to pursue their goals.

Students who take Smarter Balanced assessments have access to additional resources:

  • Students who score a level 3 or 4 in 11th grade can qualify for credit-bearing courses in college, so they can avoid remedial classes.
  • Students who score a level 2 in 11th grade can take Bridge to College courses to give them the extra support they need to get ready for school or work after high school. These courses are offered at about 155 high schools around the state. Learn more by visiting the Bridge to College website

Is taking the Smarter Balanced assessment optional?

In Washington state, students must take the Smarter Balanced assessment in high school as part of their requirement to graduate. If they do not achieve at least a certain score on the English language arts and math tests, there are alternative pathways, such as achieving a certain score on college admissions or dual credit courses, earning dual credit, or passing approved locally-administered assessments.

What does college-and career-ready mean?

Being college- and career-ready means that a high school graduate has the skills needed to qualify for and succeed in college credit-bearing courses and/or in the postsecondary job training necessary for their chosen career without the need for remedial coursework. Common Core helps ensure students are ready for either path.

What do the Smarter Balanced scores mean?

Students’ Smarter Balanced scores will fall into one of four different levels. Students scoring a 4 are on track to be college- and career-ready and should be encouraged to enroll in dual credit courses in 11th and 12th grade, earning college credit while still in high school. Students who score a 3 are also on target to be college- and career-ready by the end of 12th grade. A score of a 1 or 2 does NOT disqualify a student from attending college. Students can reduce the time and expense of remediation by working hard during 12th grade and taking advantage of transition courses designed to get students on a path to college- and career-readiness. Students can use the Smarter Balanced scores to help prepare and plan so they can be successful throughout their education, including the often challenging transitions to high school and college.

Use the new Washington Test Guide for Parents to help you better understand your child's test score report. The online tool will provide you the information you need to help your child in school. 

How do the Smarter Balanced assessments create a personalized pathway for students to be college ready?

Our learning standards help ensure students are college- and career-ready. The Smarter Balanced assessments help teachers and parents measure a student’s progress toward that goal. This timely information can help inform the student’s High School & Beyond Plan, which is designed to bring parents/guardians, educators, and students together to develop the student’s personalized pathway toward college- and career-readiness. Each student maintains a plan that outlines education and career goals, and the courses, exams, and experiences necessary to get them there. 

How are the higher education and the K-12 communities helping students become college-ready?

To help students transition to college and career pathways, teams of Washington state K-12 teachers and higher education faculty are doing the following:

  • Collaboratively developing and piloting transition courses: Bridge to College Mathematics and Bridge to College English Language Arts. These transition courses will be offered to high school seniors who need additional help to prepare for entering and being successful in college. Multiple school districts across the state are piloting the courses in 2014-15. Based on outcomes from the pilot courses, they will be revised during summer 2015 and scaled broadly across the state beginning in 2015-16.
  • Colleges of Education are incorporating the Common Core State Standards in preservice teacher education and in-service professional development programs.
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is creating a Digital Library of resources and offering professional learning opportunities to teachers of all grades.


Rebekah Kim 
Executive Director of Teaching, Learning and Leadership

Charity Jensen 
Assessment Project Manager 

Jennifer Kipp
Data Analyst Manager

Kelly Wallace-Boughter
Data Analyst

Robi Wrigley
Data Analyst

Princess Garvida
Program Data Specialist