Smarter Balanced

Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA)

Washington state requires all districts to administer the Smarter Balanced assessments each spring. These tests:

  • Measure how well students are meeting College and Career Readiness Standards
  • Help teachers, schools, and districts identify which students need more support
  • Cover Math and English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Take about 2.5-4 hours per subject
  • Are given to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10
  • Are required for federal and state accountability

Fall 2021 State Summative Testing Dates

The Washington State education agency, OSPI, has recently announced dates for the Fall 2021 summative testing window which was postponed from this spring. 

During this fall administration, students will take the tests for their 2020-21 school year grade. For example, if a student is in 6th grade next fall, they will take the 5th grade assessments. 

The tests will be shorter than normal in the fall.  While OSPI establishes the statewide testing window, exact test dates will vary by school in SPS.  Please contact your child’s school for additional information about schedules and participation, and you can also contact the SPS state assessment coordinator, Will Hodges, with any questions or concerns.

Smarter Balanced English/Language Arts and Math (SBA) Assessment Window: September 27 to November 10

Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)  Assessment Window: September 27 to November 10

Grade in School Year 2021-22 and Fall Assessment 2021

For Fall 2021, students will be administered the grade level assessment from the previous grade. See the dates below.

  • 3rd grade students: none
  • 4th grade students: Grade 3 assessments SBA/AIM**
  • 5th grade students: Grade 4 assessments SBA/AIM
  • 6th grade students: Grade 5 assessments SBA and WCAS/AIM
  • 7th grade students: Grade 6 assessments SBA/AIM
  • 8th grade students: Grade 7 assessments SBA/AIM
  • 9th grade students: Grade 8 assessments SBA and WCAS/AIM
  • 10th grade students: none
  • 11th grade students: High school assessments SBA***/AIM
  • 12th grade students: High school assessments WCAS/AIM (SBA optional)

Students in 12th grades may take Smarter Balanced if needed to fulfill their graduation pathway.

All 6, 9, and 12 grade students will take the  Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) in Fall 2021.

Reduced assessment time. The Fall 2021 assessments do not have performance tasks. This will reduce time spent on the assessments.

Spring 2022 Assessment Dates

Please contact your child’s school for exact testing dates.

Smarter Balanced English/Language Arts and Math (SBA) Assessment Window March 7 to June 3

Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) Assessment Window April 11 to June 3 for students in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades.

Spring 2022 Participation Details

  • All students in grades 3-8 and 10 are expected to take the SBA Math and ELA assessments.
  • Students in 11th and 12th grades may take Smarter Balanced if needed to fulfill their graduation pathway.
  • All 5, 8, and 11 grade students will take the  Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) in the spring.
  • Reduced assessment time. The assessments have eliminated the previously required classroom-based activity before each Performance Task. This will reduce time spent on the assessments.
  • Uniform assessment windows. No longer do third-graders and 10th-graders have a shortened testing window. All grades may take the assessment between mid-March and early June.
  • Option to release high school scores to colleges. At the end of the Smarter Balanced assessment for grades 10 and 11, students are given the option to check a box that would allow scores to be released to colleges. Scores will only be requested after a student has been admitted to a college (so that colleges can determine whether to waive placement tests and remedial courses), so this option would not impact admission.

Accommodations, Exemptions, and Opting Out of the SBA

Accommodations for the SBA

A limited amount of accommodations are available for state testing per a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan.  The accommodations must be indicated in the state assessments section of the student’s IEP or 504 plan.  Not all in-class daily accommodations are permitted on state assessments.  OSPI provides an annual document that indicates approved tools, supports, and accommodations for state assessments.

State Guidelines on Tools, Supports, and Accommodations

Exemptions for the SBA

  • A student who is actively enrolled in an English Language Learner (ELL) program and are attending their first U.S. school and arrived in the U.S. within 365 days of the assessment may be exempt from the ELA test onlyIf a student and/or family use the exemption for the Fall SBA, they will not be exempt from the spring SBA in English Language Arts. 
  • A student who has a major medical event preventing participation during the entire window.  Those exemptions are reviewed and approved by Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Opt Out of SBA

A student and their family may choose to not participate in the Fall SBA. Students who opt out of the SBA will receive a non-participant zero and they will not receive a score report.


Do you have questions about state testing requirements, participation, or scores?

Please contact Will Hodges , District Assessment Coordinator for State Testing at 206-252-0148 or email to

You can also: visit our FAQ page to learn more about Smarter Balanced , from assessment format to accommodations and much more.