Smarter Balanced assessment system will provide accurate measures of
achievement and growth for students with disabilities and English
language learners. The assessments will address visual, auditory, and
physical access barriers—as well as the unique needs of English language
learners—allowing virtually all students to demonstrate what they know
and can do.
Designed for All Students
is a core principle of the Smarter Balanced development process. The
assessment system uses technology to deliver assessments that fit the
needs of individual students. Assessment items and performance tasks
will be associated with a variety of accessibility tools and
accommodations that can be delivered to students automatically based on
All items and tasks will be reviewed for accessibility following the Smarter Balanced Item Specifications and Review Guidelines.
In September 2013, Smarter Balanced Governing States unanimously approved Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations for the assessment system, which
will shape the delivery of online testing for all students, including
those with visual, auditory, linguistic, or physical needs. The
guidelines were developed in collaboration with member states and
nationally recognized experts on English language learners and students
with disabilities. The research-based policy outlines three categories
of resources to ensure that the assessments meet the needs of all
students. The categories further distinguish between embedded tools
included in the testing platform and non-embedded tools.
- A set of universal accessibility tools—such as a digital notepad and scratch paper—will be available to all students.
supports—like a translated pop-up glossary—will be made available to
students for whom a need has been identified by school personnel
familiar with each student’s needs and testing resources.
will be available to students with a documented need noted in an
Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. These tools include
Braille and closed captioning, among others