Smarter Balanced Family Report

The family report contains a student's official score on the Smarter Balanced summative assessment (SBA), as well as the achievement level obtained with that score — 1, 2, 3 or 4. Scoring 3 or 4 means a student is on track for success in college and/or careers, a 1 or 2 means additional supports and instruction are needed. Common questions for parents also answered here.

​​​​​​​​​​reportSBA results

ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS: Pictured here is the inside of a sample family report that goes home with each student who took the SBA​ — click image to view detail or click here​. It describes a student's achievement at one of four possible levels — 1, 2, 3, or 4 — indicating his/her progress toward mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for likely success in college coursework after high school in both English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) and Mathematics.

  • Level 4: Exceeded
  • Level 3: Met
  • Level 2: Nearly Met
  • Level 1: Not Met

A 3 or 4 means a student is on track for success in college and/or careers, a 1 or 2 means additional supports and instruction are needed. SBA levels give a very simple snapshot of a student's achievement progress. The family report also provides the following data for context and deeper understanding:

  • Four-Digit Scale Score: The Scale Score falls into a vertical scale ranging from 2000 to 3000 that increases across grades. It's used to measure a student's current level of achievement, and his/her growth over time.
  • Comparison Scores: A student's scale score is compared with the average scale score of students in the same grade in the school, complex area, and state.
  • Standard Error of Measurement: A student's scale score is a snapshot of achievement. If the student were taking the test several times, it's expected the score would fluctuate slightly. The range of possible scores for a student is reflected here.
  • Claims and Resources: The report breaks down key areas of mastery for ELA and Mathematics, and provides context for the student's progress in attaining them. Resources to support growth in these areas are provided for families that want to assist.

You can learn more about these report components in the SBA Family Report Interpretive Guide​.​

Common Questions

As a parent, why does this test matter for my child?

The Smarter Balanced test helps parents understand how their child is progressing in math and English language arts/literacy (ELA) and how he or she is performing in comparison to peers in their grade level and school. It also informs parents where their child needs more support or additional challenges, which allows for more personalized instruction. For high school students, more than 200 colleges and universities in seven states have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores to determine course placement — including the 10 schools in the University of Hawaii system. To learn more, visit

How can parents use the score reports to help their children? What type of skills and work are in each category and what resources are available for the categories?

The test results will include a description of your child’s performance in categories within each subject. This will help you understand where your child needs additional practice or to be challenged by going deeper into a subject. The score report provides a list to locate activities online that were designed specifically for every grade level. You can also use the test results in discussion with your child’s teacher(s) about additional supports or challenges that may be needed in class, as well as other ways to support your child at home.

To find resources in every category and at every grade level, visit or You can use your child’s individual score to find resources that will match his or her areas of strength and areas for improvement. General resources are also available for families on the HIDOE website here.

What if my child is doing well in the classroom and on his or her report card, but it is not reflected in the test score?

Smarter Balanced is one of several measures that illustrate a child’s progress in math and literacy. Report card grades can include multiple sources of information like participation, work habits, group projects and homework, that are not reflected in the Smarter Balanced score test. So there may be a difference.

From the score report, is it possible to identify where a student excels and where he or she needs more support and practice?

On your child’s score report, the scores in math and literacy are reported in categories. (See breakdown, above.) Your child’s score in each will help you understand the progress your child is making and whether he/she needs additional practice or needs to be challenged by going deeper into a subject.

The math test is broken down into:
  • Concepts and procedures
  • Problem solving and modeling/data analysis
  • Communicating reasoning
The English language arts/literacy test is broken down into:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Research and Inquiry

When can I expect to see improvement in my child’s scores?

As teachers spend more time focusing on the content outlined in the new standards and students gain more practice with the skills, scores are expected to rise, especially for younger students. Several states have been using tests aligned to the higher standards and have seen dramatic improvements in student achievement. The scores allow you to see your child’s progress from year to year as well as toward grade level expectations.

What does it mean if a student did not achieve a Level 3 or 4? Should students be promoted to the next grade level if they do not?

Students who score at Level 3 or above in English language arts/literacy or math have met grade level expectations in the subject matter under our new, more challenging standards; in this first year, many students scored below Level 3. If your child scored at Level 2, he or she may need additional support to learn the standard in that subject this school year. Students scoring in Level 1 did not meet the standard and will require additional support to grasp the skills and concepts this school year.

If a child scored below Level 3, it does not mean that he or she should not have been promoted to the next grade. These tests are only one of several measures of how well a student is progressing against the standards, and additional information needs to be considered in making decisions about a student’s promotion or retention.

What does a child need to do to reach Level 3?

To reach a Level 3, students need to understand and demonstrate that they have met the learning expectations for their grade level. Students do not need to cram or study for this test, because test questions reflect what they are learning and doing in the classroom every day. So the best preparation and practice is through the classwork and homework they complete throughout the year.

Discuss your child’s results with his/her teacher for guidance on helping them to improve.

What if my child has special needs? How does the test account for that?

The Smarter Balanced tests can be taken by all students, except those with severe cognitive disabilities. The test has accommodations and supports that are built into the test for students with an Individualized Education Plans (IEP) or 504 plans. Accommodations include digital scratch paper, Braille, closed captioning, and others. Learn more in our Guide for Families of Students with Disabilities.

How will students’ scores be used?

Teachers are using the information to plan their classroom instruction and personalizing help for individual students. Also, many colleges and universities use the grade 11 tests as evidence of whether admitted students are ready for credit-bearing college-level work.

If fewer students are meeting the standards on this test than the previous state test, are they really accurate measures of student progress?

Yes. Education leaders in our state expected fewer students to meet the standards because they are new and more rigorous. We have raised the bar and set higher expectations at each grade level so that our students will be better prepared for success after high school. The new standards focus on more complex skills, and the tests are measuring these skills.

If scores from the Smarter Balanced test cannot be compared to previous test scores, why are these scores important?

The scores on Smarter Balanced tests are important because they show how well students are progressing against the new, higher standards. It is important for parents to know that their child is mastering the necessary skills to be successful in the next grade level.

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