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Smarter Balanced Assessment

Washington students are tested regularly by the state to assess their progress and plan how to support their continued learning as they advance towards being career and college ready upon graduation. Students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 will take the English/Language Arts and Math Smarter Balanced Assessments, and children in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS).

Resources at

Mike Weatherbie
Executive Director of Educational Technology & Assessment
(425) 335-1685
Email Mike Weatherbie

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When will my child test?
Each school sets its own testing schedule. Contact your school or your child's teacher to learn which days your child will test.

How long is the test?
The test in English/Language Arts will take approximately 3-4 hours; the math test will take approximately 2-3 hours. Because the test is administered online, students take it over multiple, short sessions. This means that a student will work for 30-45 minutes and then stop until the next scheduled session, picking up where he or she left off. Students will no longer have to push themselves to complete a test during one, long, anxiety-provoking session. Students who do need more time to complete the test, though, can take as much time as they need.

Why do our children take the tests?
Assessments are one of many ways that we have to know whether students have mastered skills needed for the next level. Annual assessments such as these are just one measure of student achievement that we combine with other measures, including teacher reports, student’s grades, and other academic performance evaluations such as class projects. Having multiple years of test data allows parents and teachers to monitor student progress over time and identify and address areas of strength and areas of growth. Our educators intentionally use assessment and other types of data regularly to collaboratively analyze current student needs and plan instruction accordingly.

How can I learn more about state testing in Washington?
You can learn more by accessing the following: Smarter Balanced Assessment Website

I have heard that students need headphones for the test. Is this true?
Yes. The test is designed to be interactive. Students click on videos, audio recordings, and infographics throughout the exam. If your child already has a set of headphones or earbuds, please consider sending the set in with your child during the testing window. If this is not possible, your school will provide a set. If you do send in a personal set in, please use inexpensive ones as the district will not be responsible for replacing lost items.