ISAT Comprehensive Assessment System Logo

The Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) Comprehensive Assessment System consists of Interim Assessments which are optional tests given during the school year to help monitor student progress; year-end Summative Assessment and access to Tools for Teachers which provides resources to teachers to use to improve student learning. Each of these are part of a coherent and comprehensive system of assessment designed to be used together to improve teaching and learning.



Formative assessment is an intentional ongoing process – not a single test. It describes feedback discussions between teachers and students, and students and their peers that happens during instruction. It’s a deliberate process that is used to provide specific insight into student learning and allow for educators to adjust teaching strategies accordingly. Just as a microscope can allow observations of finite details, the formative assessment process allows educators to observe specific evidence, providing the richest information to improve student learning.

The Tools for Teachers is a critical component of the Smarter Balanced system of assessment and provides formative instructional resources, tools, and professional learning opportunities for educators. The Tools for Teachers Connections Playlists align classroom resources with Interim Assessment Block performance levels, thus tying together all components of the system.

State Leadership Team and State Network of Educators

The Tools for Teachers provides nearly 3000 instructional resources that are aligned to the standards, and can be integrated into daily classroom teaching. These tasks and activities are used formatively to gauge day to day understanding along a learning continuum. They contribute evidence that students are on a path to end of year mastery.

The Idaho State Leadership team oversees state input on Tools for Teachers, provides training, and works to build and collaborate with the State Network of Educators (SNE). SNE's provide feedback on resources and materials in Tools for Teachers and participates in workshops up to three times per year to contribute resources. If you are interested in being a part of Idaho's State Network of Educators fill out the SNE Interest Form.

Interim assessments are typically used to determine whether students are on track toward proficiency of the content standards. Interim assessments may be selected by teachers in the classroom to meet several instructional purposes, or administered after sufficient teaching and learning has occurred. They are likened here to binoculars, as the results are still connected to the student but in a view that provides landscape details where patterns are noticeable.

Why Interim Assessments?

The Smarter Balanced ISAT Interim Assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy complement the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment System by:

  1. Providing meaningful information to help determine student progress toward mastery of the Idaho Content Standards as measured by the ISAT Summative Assessment
  2. Serving as an efficient source of items and performance tasks for assessing the Idaho Content Standards at strategic points during the school year
  3. Yielding data on student skills and understanding in relevant areas of interest
  4. Supporting teaching and learning by providing data that will inform instruction

The non-secure items and tasks in the ISAT Interim Assessment System are developed under the same conditions, protocols, and review procedures as those used in the ISAT Summative Assessment. They assess the same Idaho Standards, adhere to the same principles of universal design to be accessible to all students, and provide evidence to support claims in Mathematics and ELA.

The application of evidence-centered design (ECD) helps ensure that each item or task clearly produces student responses that support the evidence statements and are aligned to the claims and standards. This linkage of items and tasks to claims through evidence statements underscores the strength of the chain that ties assessment results to the claims.

Online Components

The ISAT 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 ISAT Summative Assessments. They assess the same wide range of standards, are administered with the same computer-adaptive process, 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 IABs will be administered with a computer-adaptive system 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 Idaho Content Standards and then adjust instruction accordingly.

The Smarter Balanced Tools for Teachers 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 ISAT 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 can use both the Interim Comprehensive Assessment and the Interim Assessment Blocks.

Summative assessments are administered at the end of the year and designed to provide systems level information for state, district, and school decision making on an annual basis. Summative assessments, which can be compared to a telescope, are useful for looking at large systems from afar and identifying patterns that might not be visible without that specific lens.

These tests are administered to provide ongoing monitoring of individual, school, district, and state progress. Academic proficiency is more than scores. Competency in all academic areas is the goal for every child. This once a year (summative) test is an important component of the statewide student assessment system as stated in IDAPA 08.02.03.111.06.

The ISAT items address a variety of skill levels, from short-term recall to skills and problem solving. The ISAT summative assessment is administered during the last 8 weeks of the school. It consists of two parts: a computer-adaptive test and performance tasks that are given on the computer.

The Assessment Main Objectives:

  • To give an indication of both student achievement and growth of student learning as part of program evaluation and school, district, and the state accountability system
  • To provide a valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress toward, and the attainment of the knowledge and skills required to be college and career ready
  • To capitalize on the strengths of computer-adaptive testing — efficient and precise measurement across the full range of achievement with quick turnaround of results


Contact your District Test Coordinator, if you need an account to access the portals.

Resource Files

Comprehensive Assessment System Definitions
Tools for Teachers for Formative Assessment
Interim Assessments
Summative Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions