Frequently Asked Questions about Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments
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Frequently Asked Questions about Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments

Are the Interim Assessments similar to the Practice Tests?

Unlike the Practice and Training Tests, the Interim Assessments are designed for formative assessment purposes and have student scores available in the Reporting System. 

Are the Interim Assessments mandatory?

Interims are optional and are offered to districts as part of a balanced system of assessments per A.R.M. 10.56.101. The Smarter Balanced interim assessments allow teachers to check student progress throughout the year, so educators can use the results to inform instruction and help students meet the challenge of college- and career-ready standards. The interim assessments may be administered at multiple points throughout the school year and are available in ELA and math in grades 3–8 and high school.

Will the ELA and math interim assessments be available throughout the summative assessment testing window?

The Smarter Balanced ELA and Math interim testing window is scheduled between September 5, 2023, to May 26, 2024.

Do students need to download the Secure Browser to take the Interim Assessments?

No. Interim Assessments can be administrated through either the Secure Browser or a supported internet browser.

Is hand-scoring necessary for the ELA and Math Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICAs)?

Hand-scoring is not necessary for the ELA ICA in any grade, or the Math ICA in high school, but it is necessary for the Math ICA Performance Task in grades 3-8. Because both parts are necessary for a student to receive a score, hand-scoring is necessary for students to receive a score report for the Math ICAs in grades 3-8.

Who conducts the hand-scoring for the Interim Assessments?

Hand scoring for the Interim Assessments is conducted at the local level; therefore, individual school staff needs to be trained to hand-score the various component of the Interim Assessment using the Reporting System.

How are teachers trained to conduct the hand-scoring for the Interim Assessments?

The Reporting System user guide and training module are available on the portal. Also, there are training guides and exemplars for each item located in the Reporting System and available for download within TIDE under General Resources.

Is the turn-around time for Interim Assessment scores dependent on completing and submitting the hand-scored items?

Yes, for selected Interim Assessments. All NGSS Interim Assessments, and most SBA Interim Assessments, are now fully machine scored and results are available in the Reporting System once the test has been submitted. Some SBA Math Interim Assessments include items that still require teacher handscoring within the Reporting System. The turn-around time to see Interim Assessment Scores in the Reporting System will depend on when the school or test administrator completes the hand-scoring process. For more information on which Interim Assessments require teacher hand-scoring, see the Smarter Balanced Interim Test Administration Manual.

Why do some interim assessments still require handscoring by a teacher?

Smarter Balanced and Cambium Assessment, Inc. (CAI) continue to work to increase the number of items that can be scored through automated, or machine scoring, to relieve the burden of scoring on teachers. Currently, all ELA Interim Assessments are fully machine scored with no handscoring required. For Math Interim Assessments, a list of tests that require handscoring can be found in the SBAC Interim Assessment Handscore List resource document. For these Math items that continue to require handscoring, more data is required for collection to accurately train the machine scoring engine. CAI will not transition an item to machine scoring until there is sufficient data to confidently and consistently train the scoring engine to provide reliable student scores.

What is the difference between the Interim Assessment Performance Task (PT) and Fixed Form Tests?

The Interim Assessments are comprised of two parts for both English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics: Fixed Form Tests and Performance Task (PT). Smarter Balanced recommends that students take the Fixed Form Tests and PT items on separate days. For each content area, Smarter Balanced also recommends that students begin with the Fixed Form Tests items, followed by the PT. Districts/Schools may opt to administer in a different order if needed.