Formative and Interim Assessment
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Students are the intended beneficiaries of educational reform solutions. Yet rarely are they asked in meaningful ways about their perceptions of the effects of these solutions on their learning. Educators and policy makers are answerable to many stakeholders. This investigation centers on the primary group of stakeholders - students.

The executive summary and following report summarize what was learned from interviewing Idaho students on the topic of assessment, and suggests ideas that have been generated regarding what might be done with this information at a local level, as a result of that communication.

PDF Icon Through Students Eyes Report

Balanced Assessment System

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback that is used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students' self-assessment, reflection and attainment of curricular learning targets/goals.

"Classroom assessments FOR learning" (formative) "informs instructional decisions along the way to success." (Stiggins R. 2006)

Interim Assessment

"Assessment administered multiple times during a school year, usually outside of instruction, to evaluate students' knowledge and skills relative to specific set of academic goals in order to inform policymaker or educator decisions at the student, classroom, school, or district level. Specific interim assessment designs are driven by the purposes and intended uses, but the results of any interim assessment must be reported in a manner allowing aggregation across students, occasions, or concepts." (CCSSO)

  • EVENT administered outside of instruction
  • EVALUATES students' knowledge and skills relative to goals within a specific time frame
  • INFORMS policymaker or educator decisions and progress at the student, classroom, school, or district levels
  • RESULTS aggregated by students, incidence, concepts
  • ADMINISTERED generally 2-6 times per year
  • TIMING controlled by school or district
  • RESULTS reported medium cycle
  • ALIGNED to curriculum standards
  • DESIGNS driven by the purpose & intended use
button Smarter Balanced Digital Library

The Digital Library is a critical component of the Smarter Balanced system of assessments. Smarter Balanced is committed to providing formative resources, tools, and professional learning opportunities for educators to tailor instruction based on student needs.

The Digital Library, which is scheduled for release in 2014, is a critical component of the Smarter Balanced system of assessments that will include a variety of resources to improve teaching and learning. This site will provide teachers with an online clearinghouse of classroom-based, formative assessment strategies and practices that enhance day-to-day instruction, including resources to interpret data and reports from the Smarter Balanced summative and interim assessments. It is interactive and allows educators from member states to use and rate resources and collaborate.

State Leadership Team and State Network of Educators

The State Leadership Team oversee state input on the Digital Library and provide training, support and guidance to the State Network of Educators. The State Network of Educators provides feedback and guidance on the resources to be included in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. They take part in professional development workshops on formative assessment and the Digital Library, and use an established Quality Criteria framework to submit and review resources.

The Idaho SNE Team was selected based on an application process in June of 2013. They consist of approximately 60 Idaho educators who between September 2013 and September 2014:

  • Participate in collaborative trainings
  • Propose and review content for the Digital Library
  • Provide feedback on the resources and the usability of the Digital Library

Members of the SNE are K-12 and higher education professionals who meet all of the following requirements:

  • Expertise in the Common Core State Standards
  • Expertise in formative assessment tools and practices
  • Experience teaching one or more of the following student groups: general education; gifted and talented; English learners; and students with disabilities.

The time commitment for members of the State Network of Educators varies from month to month, but the estimated average is 8-10 hours per month. SNE members receive stipend and have early access to the resources and collaboration tools and use them for their professional learning.

Please find listed below the Idaho team members that have been submitting and evaluating professional learning resources for inclusion in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium's Digital Library of formative assessment tools and practices. Their contributions and input have enriched our state's experience with the Digital Library and furthered the understanding of formative assessment in Idaho.


button Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment

Smarter Balanced will provide an Interim Assessment option. The purpose of the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment System in mathematics and English language arts (ELA/Literacy) is to complement the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment by:

  1. providing meaningful information to help ascertain student progress toward mastery of the skills measured by the Summative Assessment;
  2. serving as an efficient repository of items and performance tasks for assessing the Idaho Core State Standards at strategic points during the school year;
  3. yielding actionable data on student skills and understanding in instructionally relevant areas of interest;
  4. supporting teaching and learning.

The non-secure items and tasks in the Interim Assessment System are developed under the same conditions, protocols, and review procedures as those used in the Summative Assessment. Therefore, they assess the same Common Core State Standards, adhere to the same principles of universal design so as to be accessible to all students, and provide evidence to support Smarter Balanced claims in mathematics and ELA. The application of evidence-centered design (ECD) processes and procedures in the development of items and tasks helps assure that each item or task clearly elicits student responses that support the relevant evidence statements and thus are aligned to the associated claims and standards. This explicit linkage of items and tasks to claims through evidence statements underscores the strength of the validity chain that ties assessment results to the claims.

The Interim Assessment System contains two distinct online components that draw from the same non-secure bank of items and performance tasks:

  • Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICA) use the same blueprint as the Summative Assessments. They assess the same wide range of standards, are administered with the same computer-adaptive algorithm, include the same types of items and performance tasks, and report results on the same vertical scale.
  • Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs) focus on smaller sets of standards in relation to the Comprehensive Interim and therefore provide more targeted information for instructional purposes. Teachers can combine multiple IAB assessments to provide more complete coverage of specific content and/or skills. The IAB are administered with a computer-adaptive algorithm as the item bank supports.

Most items are scored by the Smarter Balanced test-delivery engine. The scoring of human-scored aspects of constructed-response items and performance tasks is a local or state responsibility. Both provide results that teachers and administrators can examine in relation to the Common Core State Standards and then adjust instruction accordingly. The Smarter Balanced Digital Library offers guidance on how and when to use each type of assessment, how to evaluate students' responses, and how to interpret results. The full range of capabilities that are ultimately offered by the Interim Assessment System will depend on the ability to fully engage the computer-adaptive technology and ongoing enhancements of the system's technology. In the initial phase, schools and districts in member states can use both the Interim Comprehensive Assessment and the Interim Assessment Blocks, but should be informed that the pool of Interim items that are initially available may result in students being exposed to the same items on repeated testing occasions. In future years, as the interim item bank is more fully populated, concerns about item exposure will diminish.



Formative Assessment Resources & Activities are made possible by a grant from the Joseph & Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and are part of the ISEE Implementation. *ISEE Phase II Grant Sites are given priority for some professional development offerings.

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