New Sample Test Questions and Resources for Scoring Student Writing

Updates to SmART and Sample Items Website Support Teachers’ Understanding of What Students Need to Know

Newly released sample English Language Arts (ELA) and math test questions and annotated writing responses provide a more robust look at Smarter Balanced test content. Educators can quickly locate and deepen their understanding of the knowledge and skills assessed by Smarter Balanced tests.

Sample test questions and annotated student responses can help educators align lessons to grade-level expectations and score writing consistently among students at a variety of ability levels.

Diver Deeper to Support Students! Check out the Sample Items and SmART websites.

Additional SmART ELA Performance Tasks Now Available

One additional performance task per grade is now available in the Smarter Annotated Response Tool (SmART) to provide more interactive descriptions of scoring for student writing.

Performance tasks require students to demonstrate critical thinking and include the writing extended response question type, which helps educators measure students’ ability to write effectively for each purpose. 

Each performance task includes annotated scoring to help teachers gain a deeper understanding of how writing is scored on Smarter Balanced tests, which helps teachers grade student writing throughout the year in a manner that reinforces grade-level expectations.

New Test Questions Added to Sample Items Website

Nearly 100 newly released questions (seven per grade) from Smarter Balanced tests are now available on the Sample Items Website

Educators can use sample test questions to help students become more familiar with question formats, so they are more comfortable when they take interims and the end-of-year test. In addition, educators can use sample test questions as classroom activities and assignments for both in-person and remote learning.

Search functionality on the Sample Items Website helps educators find test questions quickly and with control over what information they want included in their search results. Site visitors can:

Newly Released!
Sample Test Questions! Use sample items as classroom activities for in-person or remote learning.
  • Search Sample Items Website using only the question ID number, which is helpful if you already know which item you want information about.
  • Easily understand which learning targets are being assessed and how questions are scored using answer keys and scoring rubrics in search results.

How Teachers Can Use SmART and Sample Items

SmART helps teachers learn the qualities of high-scoring responses to help inform classroom writing instruction, gain insight into grade-level expectations for each trait scored for ELA full writes, and create professional development materials for teachers who might want more practice scoring student writing. 

The Sample Items Website, organized by grade and subject, displays items and questions exactly as students encounter them on actual tests: fully interactive with a range of accessibility options. Sample test questions can be used as classroom activities for both remote and in-person learning.

Used together, SmART and Sample Items Website support educators’ understanding of what students need to know and be able to do, at the appropriate depth of knowledge, to meet academic standards. Woven into the regular flow of teaching and professional development, these resources can support consistent grade-level instruction across schools and districts.

About Us

Smarter Balanced is a public agency currently supported by its members. Through the work of thousands of educators, we created an online assessment system aligned to college and career ready standards, as well as instructional resources for educators to help them improve teaching and learning. Smarter Balanced is housed at the University of California Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension.

Press Inquiries

For interviews with Smarter Balanced staff or questions about tools and resources for news stories, email Chris Barron, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs at