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Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium 101

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is designing and developing next-generation assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The work began in October 2010. The consortium has addressed ethnicity, race, gender, and economic status, as well as English-language learners and students with disabilities. This module provides an overview on the assessments with an update on the progress of the system design and timeline. The states that comprise the consortium teach about 22 million of the nation’s public K-12 students. To learn more about Smarter Balanced, please visit:


Key Points

  • The development of assessments includes consideration of technology use and inclusiveness.

  • The assessments are being designed to be administered online, but will include performance tasks that go beyond the typical multiple choice questions.

  • Accommodations for students with disabilities and English-language learners within the technology will allow for progress to be accurately measured.

  • Data on student achievement and growth will be available and easily understood by teachers, parents, principals, and other leaders; the information will allow for data-driven instruction that can respond to a child’s needs.

  • Participants will learn more about how the assessments will align with the CCSS.




1 hour




Joe Willhoft


Joe Willhoft is the executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Previously, he directed assessment and evaluation activities at the local level in both Washington state and Maryland, and he was assistant superintendent for assessment and student information for the state of Washington. His Ph.D. is in educational measurement and statistics. In his more than 40-year career, Willhoft has taught at all grade levels from kindergarten to graduate school – his favorite being third grade.

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