Main navigation

Social Studies

Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA)

CBA Information

  • Seattle Public Schools will implement Social Studies CBAs in grades 3-12. 
  • State required Civics CBAs will be implemented in grades 5 ( You Decide), 7 ( Constitutional Issues), and 12 ( Constitutional Issues). 
  • CBAs are designed to be embedded within existing Social Studies and History units. 
  • Teachers may assign a topic, supply texts, and use High Leverage Teaching Practices and Balanced Literacy Strategies to scaffold student learning for success on CBAs. 
  • Students can be assigned a topic and informational text or receive support in choosing a topic and researching information. They can collaborate in small groups or whole class learning experiences as they research the CBA topic.
  • Students must complete an individual Classroom Based Assessment product which will be scored using the CBA rubric. This will be the score reported to the district and OSPI.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Social Studies CBAs different than a WASL test?
Yes. CBAs in Social Studies engage students in authentic intellectual work that requires them to develop background knowledge and use research, reading, writing, and critical thinking skills to create a product.

“Authentic intellectual work,” engages students in “construction of knowledge, through the use of disciplined inquiry, to produce discourse, products, or performances that have value beyond school.” King, Newman & Carmichael, 2007

What grade levels are required by state law to implement CBAs?
The new state law (RCW 28A.230. 095) requires that “…school districts shall require students in the fourth or fifth grade, seventh or eighth grade and the eleventh or twelfth grade to each complete at least one classroom-based assessment in civics.” Seattle Public Schools has chosen 5th grade (You Decide CBA), 7th grade (Constitutional Issues CBA), and 12th grade (Constitutional Issues CBA).

What is the Seattle Public Schools requirement for the implementation of CBAs at other grade levels?
Seattle Public Schools will require that all students in grades 3 through 12 engage in CBAs. Other than the civics requirements in grades 5, 7 and 12, teachers may choose from a number of CBAs that focus on History, Geography, Economics, and Civics.

Is the CBA an individual or group assessment?
Each student must complete their Social Studies CBA individually.  They can participate in group learning experiences that help them build background knowledge to be successful on their written product, but they cannot get help with their writing.  The CBA should be completed in class, and students may be given more than one class period to complete their CBA.

Can students respond to the CBA prompt in a format other than a paper?
Yes. The OSPI wording on each CBA document is that it may be a “paper or presentation”. “Students may do a paper or presentation in response to the CBA provided that for either format, there is documentation of this response that someone outside their classroom could easily understand and review using the rubric (e.g., a videotaped presentation, an electronic written document).”

How do the CBAs get scored?
Individual teachers or teams of teachers at each school can score the CBAs. It is recommended that teachers attend a scoring training with OSPI, but if that is not possible, SPS will be providing periodic training in scoring CBAs.

How do we report our scores, and who sees the results?
CBA scores will be reported electronically through Seattle Public Schools. Presently, OSPI will just want to know the number of students in grades 5, 7, and 12 who are taking the CBA, but Seattle Public Schools will require that we also document student scores.

Are CBAs in Social Studies meant to be formative or summative assessments?
Ideally, in the process of engaging in authentic intellectual work, students will be assessed both “for” and “of” their learning. Teachers will scaffold skills and the development of schema through a series of learning experiences in a focused context so that students can be successful on their final paper or presentation.

Seattle Public Schools Schedule for Required * and Recommended Washington State Classroom Based Assessments in Social Studies:

Grade Social Studies CBA Possible Topics
K Optional: Adapted Dig Deep or Whose RulesHo do We Make Rules That Work for Everybody in Our Classroom
1 Optional: Adapted People on the MoveHow Did Our Families Get to Seattle?
2 Optional: Adapted You Decide or Whose Rules?Learning about the Seattle City Council: Who Decides the Rules for Our City?
3 Cultural ContributionsWhat Have We Learned From the Duwamish People?
4 Whose Rules? or Dig Deep, or, Causes of Conflict**Dig Deep: Multiple Perspectives on the Washington Territory Treaties of 1855-58
5 You Decide*(Civics): 
All Students
Your Voice Counts: Fighting Dogs Breed Ban in Seattle
6 People on the Move, or, Enduring Cultures**Enduring Cultures: Mesopotamia, the Land Between Two Rivers
7 Constitutional Issues*(Civics): All Students Search and Seizure: To Search or Not to Search – your 4th Amendment Right to Privacy Japanese Internment: Common Good vs. Individual Rights
8 Humans and the Environment, or, Causes of Conflict, or Dig Deep**Dig Deep: How the Mongols Influenced both East and West Causes of Conflict: Stevedore – The West Coast Dockworkers Strike of 1934 and its Affect on Unions and Labor in Seattle
9 Causes of Conflict, or, Technology Through the Ages**Causes of Conflict: “Remember the Maine!” Spanish-American War Causes of Conflict: Understanding the Beginning of World War One
10 Causes of Conflict, or, Technology Through the Ages**Causes of Conflict: “Remember the Maine!” Spanish-American War Causes of Conflict: Understanding the Beginning of World War One
11 You and the Economy, or, Dig Deep**

The Great Depression: How The US Economy Affected the World Market, and How it Recovered
Dig Deep: Gulf of Tonkin and the Cold War Going Hot


Constitutional Issues*(Civics):
All Students

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld: Habeas Corpus and Executive Power

* (in bold) These are required by state law (RCW 28A.230.095)

** These examples of CBAs are recommended by the state,and Seattle Public Schools will implement these for all studentsbeginning in the 2008-09 school year. Teachers may choose from a listavailable on the OSPI website.