Will the Smarter Balanced content specifications be updated?

posted Oct 22, 2012, 5:15 AM by Lucille Chicoine

Earlier this year, Smarter Balanced Governing States approved content claims in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The claims are the central, organizing themes of the content specifications, and can be found in those documents. The purpose of the content specifications was to analyze the Common Core State Standards through an assessment lens, to make declarations about what the Smarter Balanced assessments will say about student achievement, and to describe the kinds of evidence we will look for as manifestations of that achievement.

The Smarter Balanced item/task specifications—which define the characteristics of items and tasks that will appear on the Smarter Balanced assessments—were based on the content specifications. Our service providers are using the item/task specifications to write items and tasks for the Pilot Test that will occur this spring. We have encouraged item writers to make note of ways to strengthen and clarify the item/task specifications, and they can be viewed as a somewhat dynamic set of documents that we will continue to improve.

However, the content specifications, being the basis for the item/task specifications, will remain in their current form through the development of the 2014-15 assessment. Once we complete our first or second year of implementation, it may be appropriate to revisit the content specifications. At that time, we will have gathered substantial information on student performance, and we should know much more about how items and tasks work in an online environment, as well as what we can expect from different scoring strategies. This new information will certainly inform the statements of the kinds of evidence we seek in our assessments.

Overviews of the current content claims are available on the Consortium’s website: