Assessments 101: Basic Information for Families About Spring Assessments

Ready Washington
Apr 6, 2018 · 3 min read

Washington students have been hard at work learning all year. This spring, students will take state assessments to measure their skills and knowledge in math, English language arts, and science.

Families: have questions about spring assessments? Ready Washington has got you covered.

The basics:

  • Most students in grades 3–8 and 10 will take the Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math. Some 11th graders will also take the Smarter Balanced assessments, and a small number of 12th graders may, as well. For more information and resources, visit the Ready Washington website and the website for the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Most students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will also take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS). The state science assessment is aligned to the Washington State Science Learning Standards, and it is was a new assessment last year.

Note that 5th and 8th grade students will be taking both Smarter Balanced and the WCAS this spring.

Why do students take these assessments?

Measuring student progress on important skills and knowledge is key for families and teachers to know if students are on track to graduate ready for the career pathway of their choice, or if they might need extra help or advanced learning opportunities.

Assessment data are also a tool for schools, districts, and the state to help educators improve instruction for all students. Statewide assessments help ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, have access to a quality education.

What are the assessments measuring?

The assessments are aligned to the Washington State K-12 Learning Standards, which define what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Rigorous learning standards require students to think critically and creatively about content — rather than memorize it — so they are ready for the career pathway of their choice after they graduate high school. The assessments measure students’ progress toward meeting these standards.

The WCAS is aligned to the state’s Science Learning Standards, adopted in 2013. The standards are designed to make science education accessible and relevant to all students, engaging them in hands-on technology and engineering practices that help them understand the world and prepare them for future careers. The standards describe what each student should know in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application. The assessment measures students’ progress on these skills and knowledge.

The standards are designed to make science education accessible and relevant to all students, engaging them in hands-on technology and engineering practices that help them understand the world and prepare them for future careers.

Students will take the assessment on computers and will have as much time as they need. For school planning purposes, estimated test-taking times are:

  • Grade 5: 90 minutes
  • Grade 8: 105 minutes
  • Grade 11: 120 minutes

When are results available to parents?

  • Smarter Balanced results are typically distributed to parents in early September.
  • Districts will receive WCAS assessment results in August and are responsible for sharing results with students and families. This typically happens in the fall, once school is up and running.

Ready Washington

Written by

Supporting college and career ready goals and standards for every K-12 student in Washington state. Connect on Facebook: http://Facebook.com/ReadyWA