Each spring, the state requires that we assess students in core subject areas. Along with students in 12 other states, Washington students in grades 3-8 (plus high school) will take the online Smarter Balanced assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Students in grades 5, 8 and 11 will also take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) test. Test-related graduation requirements are explained below. Each school determines a workable testing schedule within state parameters, mid-March into June.

This will be the fifth year of Smarter Balanced testing. The assessments are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, designed to prepare students to be college- and career-ready by high school graduation.

What are the Smarter Balanced tests like?

  • Tests are taken online, and some parts are adaptive. This means that to a certain extent, the test questions will become more difficult – or easier – depending on how each student responds.
  • All state tests are untimed.
  • Tests are designed to be taken over multiple sessions. Students do not need to finish a test in a single day. Estimated testing time per subject is 3-4 hours.
  • Each test has a computer adaptive section (multiple choice, fill in the blank, etc.), plus a performance task section that will better measure a student’s depth of understanding, research and analysis skills, etc.

Try out a Smarter Balanced practice test for yourself!

We encourage parents and students to check out the practice and training tests, plus the many resources available to the public: http://wa.portal.airast.org/training-tests. Students will also have designated practice sessions during the school day before actual testing begins.

Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

The WCAS test is taken by students in grades 5, 8 and 11 to fulfill state and federal accountability requirements. Aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, the WCAS replaced two previous state science tests. The WCAS test is taken online, on the same testing platform as Smarter Balanced tests. For more information: http://www.k12.wa.us/Science/Assessments.aspx.

High School Testing for 2018-19

  • Grade 9 – No Smarter Balanced or state science testing in 9th grade.
  • Grade 10 – All students will take the Smarter Balanced ELA and Math tests (or the alternate WA-AIM tests – IEP only) this spring. Meeting the ELA and Math test standards is a diploma requirement.
  • Grade 11 – If not previously passed, students will retake the Smarter Balanced ELA and/or Math tests (diploma requirement). In addition, to comply with federal accountability rules, 11th graders will take the WCAS science test.
  • Grade 12 – Students will retake the Smarter Balanced ELA or Math test, if diploma requirements have not yet been met.
  • High school students receiving special education services:
    • Grade 10 – All students will take the high-school level Smarter Balanced ELA and Math tests (except for those assessing with the alternate WA-AIM test).
    • Grades 11-12 – Depending on IEP instructions, as needed to meet diploma requirements, students may take off-grade-level Smarter Balanced tests or alternate assessments.
  • Connecting Smarter Balanced results to college course placement:
    • Higher education institutions in Washington State – community colleges and all 4-year public universities – have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores in determining college course placement. High school graduates who score at level 3 or 4 on the high-school-level tests will be placed directly into credit-bearing courses.

More Information


Contact your school principal; or Chris Lindberg, BSD Testing and Data Manager, at lindbergc@bsd405.org.