Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICAs) Provide Early Detection of College and Career Readiness

Educators can now use ICAs more effectively in Grades 9 & 10 with the release of new cut scores

Image of a girl sitting at a desk smiling at the camera.

Interim Comprehensive Assessments (ICAs) — one component of the complete assessment system — allow teachers to check student progress toward college and career readiness throughout the year.

With new cut scores, or achievement levels, in grades 9 and 10, educators can now use ICAs to detect even earlier in high school where students might need additional instructional support in mastering specific concepts. By gathering this information early in high school, teachers have time to target skills and knowledge for individual students before they graduate. This one-page flier provides more information about cut scores and using ICAs in the classroom.

ICAs, which include the full array of Smarter Balanced accessibility resources, test the same content and report scores on the same scale as the summative assessments. They are flexible, optional assessments that can be used at the discretion of schools and districts. In addition, educators can access the test questions (and their students’ responses to the test questions) for instructional purposes.

The results give us so much information about how well students are going to be prepared. In some cases, our kids that are in school right now, my own included, are going to be doing jobs in this world that we don’t even imagine.

Instructional Coordinator, CA

The Smarter Balanced assessment system is a valid, fair, and reliable approach to student assessment that provides educators, students, and parents meaningful results with actionable data to help students succeed. ICAs are part of this broader system that also include Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs), which focus on smaller sets of related concepts and provide even more detailed information for instructional purposes.

Teachers use interims alongside the Digital Library, which contains standards-aligned instructional resources. Together, interim assessments and instructional supports from the Digital Library form the formative assessment process used by teachers to gain actionable feedback that they can use to adjust their instruction and improve student learning.

Key Fact about ICAs

Most questions can be machine-scored. Some items, such as constructed-response items and performance tasks, need to be scored locally by teachers. Supports are available to assist teachers with handscoring these types of items.