State testing FAQ

2020-21 state test scores FAQs


What do the scores mean?

The primary purpose of fall 2021 test was to check-in on how schools and students are doing after the school year 2020–21. The level your student earned is an estimate of their performance on some of the skills and knowledge related to standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science (only 5th, 8th, and 11th). On each test, students whose performance was a level 3 or level 4 demonstrated most of the skills and knowledge required to meet state expectations on a typical end-of-year test. Test results are only one way to know how students are doing in each content area. Consider having a conversation with your student’s teacher about your student’s learning. This may include teacher observations, projects, classroom work, and other school activities.


Why did testing happen in Fall 2021?

The United States Department of Education gave states flexible timing for the 2020–21 tests. During school year 2020–21, students had limited in-person learning opportunities. To maximize time for instruction and support in the spring of 2021, OPSI moved Smarter Balanced Assessment testing into the fall.

What grade level test did my student take?

Students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment they would have taken in the spring. This means that 4th graders took the 3rd grade Smarter Balanced Assessment, and 5th graders took the 4th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment, etc. The test covered skills and content your student would have been taught last year.

How was the Fall 2021 Smarter Balanced Assessment different from prior years’ tests?

The fall test was different from prior years’ tests in many ways. There were fewer questions overall. There were no performance assessments. Students did not have to explain their math work. For these reasons, we recommend that fall results not be compared to other year’s test results. Also, OSPI recommends that these test results are not used to make instructional or program decisions for students.

Why was the test shorter?

Shorter tests allowed students and teachers to focus on social, emotional, and academic supports as students returned to school this fall.