Smarter Balanced Assessment

The Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) in mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core Standards, and designed to measure whether students are "on track" for readiness in college and/or career. These are mandatory assessments given to students in grades 3-8 and 11.

​​​​About SBA

Hawaii is among 13 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education leading a Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that developed an assessment system to measure whether students are meeting the Common Core​​ for Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA), and if they are on-track for college and career readiness. 

Hawaii students in grades 3-8 and 11 take the SBA in the spring. Families receive results in the fall prior to the the public release of school- and state-level results. Click here​ to learn more about the SBA Family Report.

For students, SBA offers:

  • More complex problems and challenge them to support their answers with explanations and evidence.
  • The ability to mark test items for review, take notes on a digital notepad, use calculators and other tools in certain sections, and also pause the test.
  • The opportunity to be placed in credit-bearing courses at a number of colleges and universities​, including the University of Hawaii system of colleges. See this flyer​ for more information.

SBA is an assessments system:

  • It allows teachers to administer formative assessments — small, frequent academic checks — throughout the year. Teachers are able to print reports and discuss students' real-time performan​ce and progress with parents.
  • For the Smarter Balanced summative assessments conducted in the spring, teachers have access to student scores within two weeks of completion of the assessment, allowing them to adjust instruction in the final weeks of the school year. Reports will also be provided to educators who will be teaching students the following school year to help inform their instruction. Parents receive a paper report on the summative assessments in the fall.​​

SPECIAL NEEDS: Students with significant cognitive disabilities take the HSA-Alternative exams in ELA/Literacy, Mathematics and Science. Learn more​.

OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS: Learn more​ about what constitutes accommodations for students with various needs.

HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE: For students in the Department's Kaiapuni (immersion​) schools, the Department and its partners at the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa developed assessments for grades 3 and 4 in the Hawaiian language that are aligned to the standards and measure progress toward preparing students for success in college, career and community — the Kaiapuni Assessment of Educational Outcomes (KĀ‘EO). It was administered for the first time in spring 2016 following a successful field test in 2015. The Department has a "double testing" waiver from the U.S. Department of Education in place so Kaiapuni students in those grades do not also have to take the SBA.

Two components

There are two SBA summative assessment components:

  1. Computer Adaptive Test: An online adaptive test that provides an individualized assessment for each student.
  2. Performance Task: Tasks that challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to respond to real-world problems. They can best be described as collections of questions and activities that are coherently connected to a single theme or scenario.​ They​ will be used to better measure capacities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and complex analysis, which cannot be adequately assessed with selected- or constructed-response items. Some performance task items can be scored by the computer; most will be manually​​ scored.

Changes introduced with school year 2017-18 reduced the average time to about 5.5 hours for both assessments. They are not timed; students will be given appropriate time to answer all questions. SBA can also be administered over several days. Assessment changes: 

  • The test has been streamlined to include only the Computer Adaptive Test and the Writing Performance Task, and
  • Test questions that took a long average time to complete were eliminated.

ONLINE PRACTICE TESTS: Students, teachers and parents nationwide have access to sets of assessment questions aligned to the Common Core that can be used for professional development and discussions with policymakers and other interested stakeholders. The practice tests are available at our AlohaHSAP portal​​​. These are only a preview, and do not encompass the full range of content that students may encounter. Also, they are presented in a “fixed form” (i.e., not computer adaptive) and users will not receive reports or scores.​​

Instructional shifts

SBA replaced the former Hawaii State Reading and Mathematics Assessments (HSA). (The HSA for Science will continue to be administered.) SBA measures not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations. To explain the instructional shifts in our classrooms, and how those are reflected in the SBA, take a look at the following guides:

English Language Arts English Language Arts English Language Arts
Mathematics Mathematics Mathematics

2018-19 Administration

or Track(s)

Testing Window



3-8 and 11



1st semester students, block schedule schools only



​Multitrack: Yellow 02/19/19 05/31/19
​Multitrack: Red, Blue, Green 03/18/19* 06/21/19*​​
*Subject to change.​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​HSA results

Before the introduction of the SBA in 2015, Hawai‘i administered the Hawaii State Assessment in Reading and Mathematics to students in grades 3-8 and 10. A "bridge" assessment (part-HSA, part-SBA) was administered in 2014. 

State, school and grade-level results are released to the public to track the progress of the public school system and to support instructional program improvement efforts. Individual student data is not released.

TEST RESULTS: Click for a spreadsheet of statewide and school-level results for the following school years: 
  • ​2013-14: Strive HI data file (with "bridge" results in reading and math, and HSA Science results)
  • 2012-13: HSA
  • 2011-12: HSA
  • 2010-11: HSA
  • 2009-10: HSA

​Family resources

Families are key in student preparedness. New standards (Hawaii Common Core) and assessments (Smarter Balanced) are creating shifts in the classroom that involve more dynamic, evidence- and technology-based learning than what classes used to look like a generation ago. We encourage families to dig in to these resources to help students be ready for learning — and demonstrating learning.​

Contact Information

Brian Reiter

Phone: 808-733-4100


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