Smarter Balanced Assessment ConsortiumSmarter Balanced Consortium Logo

In a collaborative effort to align both curriculum and learning experiences across a broader, K-20 base, the Montana University System and the Montana Office of Public Instruction have come together in support of an assessment process that more fully supports student engagement and success.

See the information below to learn more about the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and how it aims to improve educational accountability across the board.


The Smarter Balanced member states educate more than 19 million of the nation’s public K-12 students. These states share a commitment to developing a next-generation assessment system aligned to the Montana Content Standards that provide educators with meaningful feedback and actionable data.

Continued collaboration with higher education leaders and faculty is critical to the consortium’s success. Representatives from higher education are involved in key design decisions—with the goal that colleges and universities across Smarter Balanced member states will accept an agreed-upon achievement level on the assessment as evidence that high school students are ready for entry level, credit-bearing coursework.

In cooperation with the Office of Public Instruction, the Montana University System joined SBAC as a governing state during the initial development of the consortium in 2010. To continue as a member after the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, a state must agree to use the Consortium’s tests as its federal accountability assessments. For more information about SBAC member states, see

Although SBAC college and university members are in support of a more rigorous assessment process, they have not yet committed to the use of the Smarter Balanced summative assessment as evidence of students’ career or college readiness. Any decision is pending further work on test design, reporting, and the establishment of test cut scores.


The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness. Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the Montana Content Standards (MCS) by the 2014-15 school year.

By 2014, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will develop a fair and reliable system of next-generation assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics for grades 3-8 and 11 aligned to Montana Content Standards . These assessments will be administered online, allowing for timely results that will provide information to teachers to help differentiate instruction. The assessment system will include:

  • A computer adaptive summative assessment administered during the last 12 weeks of the school year. This assessment can be used to describe student achievement and growth of student learning as part of program evaluation and school, district, and state accountability systems.

  • Optional computer adaptive interim assessments administered at locally determined intervals. These assessments provide information about student progress throughout the year.

  • Formative tools and resources that help teachers differentiate instruction and meet the unique needs of each student.

  • An online tailored reporting system that provides access information about student progress toward college and career readiness.


The Smarter Balanced assessment system will give parents and students accurate information about whether students are on track to graduate high school ready for college and the workplace. It will provide teachers with resources to tailor instruction to student needs through a digital library of instructional best practices. Importantly, educators will be able to easily compare student achievement between schools, districts, and states to ensure that students are making progress.


Spring 2013: Development of Field Test items and tasks. Teachers review for alignment with MCS and check for bias/sensitivity. Pilot Test of assessment items and performance tasks. Research sample includes 10 percent of public school students in member states. All schools may participate on a voluntary basis.

Summer 2013: Begin development of Exemplar Instructional Modules across grades in ELA/literacy in collaboration with State Networks of Educators (through May 2014).

Winter 2013: Teachers and teacher educators recruited to develop digital library of formative assessment tools and practices.

Spring 2014: Smarter Balanced conducts Field test of summative and interim assessment items and performance tasks.

Summer/Fall 2014: Training materials available for all users on interpreting interim and summative assessment reports, searching resources, and using collaboration tools in the Digital Library. Preliminary standard-setting.

Fall 2014: Smarter Balanced assessments and Digital Library ready for use by states.

Spring 2015: States administer summative assessment during last 12 weeks of the school year.

Summer 2015: Final achievement standards for the summative assessment verified and adopted.


General inquiries:  Angela McLean | 406-449-9131

K-12 State Lead:  Judy Snow, Director of State Assessment, Office of Public Instruction | 406-444-3656