Administering Interim Assessments
Some states make available to educators an interim assessment item viewer. If available, a teacher may access an interim item and display the item during instruction within the platform.
- Strategies to collect responses as part of a formative process.
- Accessibility to ensure equitable access for all students.
Consortium members may configure their test platforms to allow teachers to administer interim tests remotely and students to take interim tests remotely.
Consortium members have the flexibility to allow teachers to administer, and students to take interim assessments remotely under the following conditions:
- An authorized employee (e.g., teacher, test administrator) in a school administers the test consistent with the district or school policies for in-person interim assessment administration.
- The test administrator monitors the test activity such that tests are open only for the minimum amount of time necessary for students to complete and submit their responses.
- The test administrator uses established test administration practices to support students accessing the interim assessments; this may be a phone call or chat with a parent/guardian in advance of starting the test.
- The test administrator maintains student data privacy with student State-wide Student Identifiers (SSID) and other personally identifiable information (PII), which are required to take an interim. (E.g., Do not send PII over email, chat or text or other non-secure transmission methods. Please refer to local policies regarding communicating PII.)
- The test administrator follows state and local policies regarding test security and immediately escalates to the test coordinator any suspected item security issue:
- A state or territory may establish a policy that allows for interim assessments to be administered without the use of a secure browser provided that the applicable test security protocols described in the state’s interim assessment test administration or guidance manual are followed.
- A state’s policy must include procedures to address item security (e.g. posting on social media).
Similarities in the assessment process between remote and in-person instruction
- Know the purpose for administering the interim assessment (or test items). For example, what new information do you need about your students’ skills?
- Choose which interim assessment will provide the best information or whether presenting an interim item during instruction will best meet your needs.
- Match the conditions with the purpose including:
- the student’s environment (access to external information),
- accessibility resources, and
- timing based on when instruction was provided.
- Use the results to inform next steps in instruction.
- Follow all test security protocols outlined in the first two “Don’t” bullet points on the next tab prior to interim testing.
- Do not post the test items on the internet or a public page
- Do not email interim test items
- Do not email or text students’ personal or confidential information—even to parents. Use a secure method provided by your district.
Understanding and Using Interims
The following strategies can facilitate the use of the formative assessment process in distance learning.
Understanding the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments
This video will explore Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments and how they can support teaching and learning throughout the year. Let's start with why interims are important for students and educators. First, they provide information about what students know and can do, so that both teachers and students can make adjustments to improve teaching and learning. Second, they assess college and career readiness skills like organization, critical thinking, and problem solving. Third, they utilize a full range of item types similar to summative assessments. There are different types of interim assessments based on the scope of content being assessed - these are the Interim Comprehensive Assessments, known as the ICAs; the Interim Assessment Blocks, known as the IABs; and the Focus Interim Assessment Blocks, known as the Focused IABs. Let's take a closer look at the first type, the Interim Comprehensive Assessments, or ICAs.[SOUND]
The ICAs assess the same range of claims, targets, and standards as the summative assessments and provide results within the same achievement levels. There's one ICA for each available grade in English language arts and mathematics. ICAs can help determine the ability level of students who have had a significant period of instruction or who are new to the district. The second type is the Interim Assessment Blocks, or IABs. The IABs address a fairly broad, yet related, set of concepts and skills like measurement and data or reading informational texts. IABs help teachers and students check where they are in their learning and use the results to make adjustments. There are multiple IABs for each grade and content area. The third type of interim assessment is the Focused Interim Assessment Blocks, or Focused IABs. The Focused IABs target a smaller range of concepts and skills compared to the IABs. For example, analyzing research and geometry are Focused IABs. They provide educators with a more detailed understanding of what students know and can do for a very fine-grained set of content. Like the IABs, there are many available Focused IABs for each grade and content area. Interims can be used in many ways to inform instruction. This allows educators and students the flexibility to decide when the assessment is administered, re-administered, and scored. Prior to using interims, educators should establish how they will give the assessment. Meaning, will the environment be similar to a summative assessment or will it be given flexibly in the classroom? When administering the interim like the summative, each student is assigned an IAB to complete individually. With this use, educators can review individual student performance and take action on the students’ results. When using this approach, educators should decide what protocols to use prior to giving an IAB. For example, what level of engagement will educators have with students? Will they take observational notes or answer student questions during the assessment? How might this impact the inferences teachers make about the students’ results? Educators can also use the assessment flexibly as an in-the-moment learning opportunity. For example, educators can use interims as an instructional activity that incorporates group and peer feedback as students work together to complete the assessment. Educators can also use individual items or a set of items as a quick check to elicit evidence of what students know, using whiteboards or sticky notes. These approaches provide immediate data on where students are in the moment, and allows educators the opportunity to adjust teaching and learning strategies immediately.[MUSIC]
Like the summative assessments, interims are computer-based and fully accessible. They offer a range of Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations for students.[MUSIC]
One key difference is that the interims are fixed form assessments, while summative assessments are computer adaptive tests. This means, on the interims, students will see the same items each time they take the assessment. How do you know which interim assessment to give students and when? Before deciding, educators should consider three things: what's the purpose, how will it be scored, and how will the data be used to improve teaching and learning? Most interim assessment items are scored by the computer and reports appear in your state's reporting system. Some items, like open ended tasks, will need to be hand-scored by an educator. Hand-scoring is a valuable professional development activity that allows educators to gain a deeper understanding of grade level expectations. To keep the integrity of the assessment items, they should not be posted or distributed outside of the school setting. In order to share with families, sample items are available on your state's assessment portal. Interim blocks, including the IABs and Focused IABs, are unique to the Smarter Balanced system because each one is associated with a Connections Playlist. Educators can use Connections Playlists in multiple ways. For example, educators can use them to support students by using performance progressions to understand and interpret student interim assessment results; plan instruction by using descriptions of student performance to inform and plan instructional next steps; and take action by using educator created classroom ideas and resources to support student success. The interim assessments, along with the summative assessments and formative assessment instructional supports, are designed to work together to support high quality teaching, improve learning for all students, and prepare students for life after high school. We hope this information about the interim assessments was helpful. Thank you for watching.[MUSIC]
Interims are Key to Setting Learning Goals
Our teachers have found the interim assessments to be a very useful tool. It's part of why we've really bought into the Smarter Balanced system is that it is a system and it's not just the summative end-of-the-year assessment. Our teachers meet and PLC's weekly to set the ongoing goals and so they can check in on a consistent basis and then every five to six weeks the teachers will meet one-on-one with myself. Oftentimes, we'll have our lab teacher, our counselor, will join us also to give feedback on the students and then we're able to use that feedback, immediately, in teaming groups and with our students in the classrooms. I really feel that the interim has been very impactful for my students. We were introduced to the interims about four years ago and our district provided them to us for a professional development. Then, our district started getting involved with our response to interventions and that's when we started seeing interims as a key to helping us set goals for our students. Because we do response to interventions every six weeks, we use that interim data to guide our instruction. The information that I get from the IAB's is so valuable. I especially appreciate when it can break it down question by question and I can see which questions individual students struggle with as well as which questions did my class as a whole struggle with. One of the great things about the IAB's is that they have deeper levels of questioning in them and there's multiple parts and when students are able to see their academics being assessed in that way, and they have practice with that format, they're more successful. And I think the biggest benefit is getting it back in their hands and showing them where they made their mistakes and where they can grow from it. I think that the more engaged the kids are, the more ownership they take of their learning so I think it's really important that we engage them in every step of the way. My kids are often asking me, "How did I do on that?" or "What kind of growth did I make?" It might not be an entire rubric jump but they've jumped in different points they've jumped in getting more information that they didn't know beforehand. These questions are written so kids have to think their way to the right answer and that I think is so powerful because that's what we want to create with our students. We want to put them out in the world as citizens that can problem-solve and think for themselves and can rationalize why they choose certain things. The interim assessments, leading up to the summative assessment, are built to do that and to show the progress over time. Smarter Balanced would like to thank Puyallup School District and Brouillet Elementary.
Use Interim Assessments to Move Students Forward
I first started with Digital Library and I didn't really know anything about the interim assessments but after attending the workshops and seeing the benefit that it would give me and the students, I decided to try it out. For me as a teacher it helps me see what the students skillsets are and what they need to work on, whether they're a lot below or they're right there but they kind of got it but they maybe just need a little bit of work. And for my students it gives them the drive to do well on their own. As a teacher, it helps me to see how they respond to their own data analysis because I realize that when they get something wrong it's not always that they didn't know the material but because there was something else going on in their minds like they were anxious or they chose what they thought was the right answer and then they overlooked a better answer. So, the value in going over an interim assessment after it's been given is to provide feedback to students so that they understand why they did well or why they didn't do well. My advice to anyone that has not had any experience with the interim assessments in digital library it's a great place to start. It doesn't take too much time—usually about 40 minutes to complete one interim—and it's broken down by the strands and it's not testing them over all the standards but specific to that strand. And then from there you can pull the data and see what your students need and then you can find resources. If you are not sure where to go, there's a bunch of different activities and resources available in the Digital Library. Anything that benefits students and improves teachers teaching styles and strategies is always a plus. Our goal is to move our students forward and I would strongly encourage other schools to go with the interim assessments.
Questions and Answers
Comparison of interim scores is complicated and depends on a variety of factors. If the testing environment is consistent, and students have the same amount of learning, the same levels of ability, and the same motivation, then we expect the students to perform similarly on a test. Given that there are likely differences in instruction, learning, motivation, mode of administration, and the testing environment, any inferences about differences in students' learning or differences in your instruction based on comparisons to previous years' administrations should be considered only with the greatest amount of caution.
It is important to note that multiple sources of information should be used when making decisions about the needs of individual students. Some examples are provided below as to how a teacher may use the interim assessments as part of a larger collection of information:
- Prior to instruction: by administering an interim assessment or individual items to identify possible entry points for instruction and misunderstandings;
- During instruction:
- by presenting one or more items as a tool, activity, or prompt that supports the formative assessment process a teacher uses to adjust her instruction in real time; or
- by administering an interim assessment midway through a unit to provide information regarding whether the teacher’s plan for instruction should change; or
- After instruction: by administering a test at the end of a unit as part of a teacher’s collection of information regarding the degree to which students’ have learned the required content.
Yes. If it’s consistent with the Local Education Agency (LEA) policies and the test administrator is authorized to administer Smarter Balanced interim assessments by the school or district, a test administrator may remotely administer Smarter Balanced interim assessments using the same procedures, to the extent practicable, as would be used for an in-person administration.
Please note: Smarter Balanced interim assessments are considered student- and teacher-facing only (semi-secure). This designation provides educators the flexibility to access the test questions and their students’ responses to the test questions. Test questions and student responses to test questions may not be posted on the internet or emailed. Interim assessment items may not be entered into 3rd party applications. However, teachers are encouraged to look at the questions and students' responses to the questions. Teachers are also encouraged to use interim assessment items during instruction as part of their formative process.
A remote test administrator is sufficient. A remote test administrator should fill the role of test administrator consistent with state and local policies including:
- Starting test sessions. Tests should only be available for the minimum amount of time needed for students to complete their tests
- Monitoring test sessions to ensure that students are progressing through the test at a pace appropriate for the individual student. This is important so that the remote test administrator can attempt to contact the student to determine if they need assistance or if the student cannot access the test.
- Pausing or stopping a test if the student is unable to continue taking the test at that time or there appears to be an irregularity
- Reporting potential security breaches consistent with state and local policies
No. Teachers may use the Interim Assessment Item Portal (IAIP) to view and select individual or multiple interim assessment items to display to students during remote instruction. The IAIP is available to teachers who have access to Tools for Teachers.
If the state provides access to an interim assessment item viewer application, a teacher may display interim assessment items to students during remote instruction as part of a formative assessment strategy.
Alternatively, a teacher may use individual released items from the Sample Items Website as part of their formative strategy.
Consistent with local policies, the teacher may include in a shared, real-time document (e.g., Google Docs), a link to items on the Sample Items Website and provide a space for students to enter their responses. The teacher may then provide feedback to the students in real time.
Note: Please remember that sample items may not be copied into third-party applications.
Printing and Sharing
Yes. You may share links to resources. Teachers who have access will need to log in to Tools for Teachers to access the resource. Teachers may download resources from Tools for Teachers and modify the tools and resources attached if allowed by the copyright for the particular instructional resource. Teachers may also share student materials directly with students and families.