​Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA)

What is the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA)?

The SBA is a comprehensive, mandatory online assessment that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA). The SBA uses computer adaptive technology (CAT), meaning that the test responds to individual students based on their responses, adjusting the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment.


  • Measures critical thinking with questions that ask students to demonstrate their research, writing, and problem solving skills
  • Provides valid, reliable, and unbiased measures of student progress toward, and attainment of, the knowledge and skills required to be college- and career-ready
  • Shows how the student is improving and identifies areas where they may need help
  • Is not timed, allowing students to take breaks
  • Provides accessibility resources and accommodations

SBA Scoring

A student’s performance on state assessments is reported using scale scores. These scores are used to place the student into one of four levels:

Level 4: Thorough understanding of/ability to apply skills
Level 3: Adequate understanding of/ability to apply skills
Level 2: Partial understanding of/ability to apply skills
Level 1: Minimal understanding of/ability to apply skills

Who takes the SBA?

All students in grades 3 – 8 and grades 10-12.

When is the SBA administered?

The Office of Supervisor of Public Instruction (OSPI) establishes state assessment testing windows each school year. Districts and schools schedule state assessment administration dates within those OSPI windows; please contact your school or assessments@tacoma.k12.wa.us for details regarding planned state assessment dates.

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