Assessment Consortia

The development of the standards was a significant advance in education reform. However, without common assessments to determine student proficiency on the standards, comparability would be impossible. In 2011, states came together to establish two consortia tasked with building comprehensive assessment systems aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). States that adopted the CCSS were free to join either or both of the consortia for the assessment development process. Both assessment systems will be fully operational in school year 2014-2015 and are being designed to determine if a student is on the path to being college and career ready.

While there will ultimately be two different assessments in use, comparability is still a goal of the two assessment consortia. There are active efforts underway by both consortia to work collaboratively to study cross-assessment comparability.The Smarter Balanced Consortium (Smarter Balanced) is developing computer adaptive assessments for the CCSS and will design formative, interim, and summative assessments for use by member states.  Currently, the following states are members of Smarter Balanced: Smarter Balanced released sample assessment and performance tasks in October 2012 to help educators and students prepare for the Smarter Balanced assessment. Smarter Balanced will also pilot test beginning in February 2013. Participation in the pilot test is voluntary and open to all schools in member states. The assessments will be administered in grades 3-8 and once in high school.The other consortium, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), is developing online, computer-based assessments for grades 3-8 and high school. The assessment package will include a diagnostic, mid-year, speaking and listening, performance, and end-of-year assessment. PARCC assessments will be computer-based, but not computer adaptive like the Smarter Balanced assessments. PARCC has released test items and task prototypes for use online. These prototypes and released items will help educators and students prepare for the PARCC assessments.

 The following map outlines which states joined which consortium.


While the assessments being developed differ in technical design and approach, the assessments that will emerge from the consortia are very different from the assessments currently in use by states—and students will largely be unfamiliar with their formats. For example, students will be required to complete performance tasks.

It is important that state boards of education think about how state board policy can help educators and administrators prepare students for the assessments. For example, Kentucky has administered a practice CCSS assessment. The Kentucky Performance Rating of Education Progress (K-Prep) was administered to students to help familiarize both educators and students with what the CCSS assessments will require.

  • Click here for information on the SMARTER BALANCED release items.
  • Click here for information on the SMARTER BALANCED pilot testing.
  • Click here to access the test items and task prototypes for PARCC.
  • Click here and here to see how the two consortia are approaching assessments differently.


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