Testing that works for our students

State Testing in the 2021-22 School Year

Generic testing 2The pandemic has created a deep disruption for our students and our schools. This includes a change to the timeline of when students are administered the state tests. Instead of a Spring 2021 administration, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) chose to delay administering these tests until Fall 2021. That means there will be two state testing windows during the 2021-22 school year.

The Fall 2021 tests will be reflective of the grade students were in during the 2020-21 school year. For example, a student enrolled in grade 4 in Fall 2021 will take the grade 3 Smarter Balanced assessments and a student enrolled in grade 9 in Fall 2021 will take the grade 8 Smarter Balanced assessments and WCAS. The Fall window is scheduled from late September to mid-November.

Spring 2022 assessments will be administered to students according to their enrolled grade level. For example, a student enrolled in grade 4 in the 2021-22 school year will take the grade 4 Smarter Balanced assessments in spring of 2022. A student enrolled in grade 8 will take the grade 8 WCAS in spring of 2022. And, a student enrolled in grade 9 in the 2021-22 school year will not take any assessments in spring of 2022. The Spring window from early March to the start of June.

Related: OSPI info for 2021-22 Testing Timelines & Calendar


History of Washington state testing requirements

Washington state's assessment system got its start with the Education Reform Law of 1993, which created the Commission on Student Learning. The Commission was charged with developing the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and an assessment system to measure student progress. From spring 1997 through summer 2009, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) served as the assessment system. By decision of the State Board of Education, from 2006 through 2009, the WASL also served as a graduation requirement. 

In 2010, Washington State replaced by the WASL with the Measurements of Students Progress (MSP) for grades 3-8 and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) for high school. Starting in spring 2015, Washington transitioned to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a Common Core aligned assessment and began phasing out the MSP and HSPE. The SBA fulfills both federal and state requirements for annual testing in ELA and math. Washington utilizes the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) to meet the federal requirement of a science assessment.

To meet federal testing requirements, the SBA ELA and math tests are administered in grades 3-8 and in 10th grade.  The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) is administered in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.  The WA-AIM serves as an alternative ELA, math, and science assessment for students in grades 3–11 with significant cognitive disabilities as documented in their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Other state mandated tests

In addition to the SBA in ELA and Math and the WCAS (the WA-AIM is available as an alternative assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities) administered for federal accountability purposes, other state tests include:

  • Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Skills (WaKIDS): Is a legislatively mandated part of state-funded, full-day kindergarten. It includes three components: engagement with families via family connection, an assessment of student skills and strengths, and a partnership with early learning providers to support student transitions.
  • WIDA ScreenerUsed to determine initial eligibility for ELD services for English learners in grades K–12.
  • Annual WIDA ACCESS Assessments: For all students in grades K–12 who qualify for English language development (ELD) services to determine which students remain eligible to continue receiving ELD services.
  • WIDA Alternate ACCESS: For students in grades K–12 with significant cognitive challenges who qualify for English language development (ELD) services to determine which students remain eligible to continue receiving ELD services.
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): NAEP is a national test  that measures what students across the country know and can do in 10 subject areas, including mathematics, reading, writing, and science. Federal law requires every state to give the NAEP in reading and math at grades 4 and 8 every two years. 
  • OSPI-Developed Assessments (formerly CBAs) and OSPI-Developed Performance Assessments (formerly CBPAs): The state develops classroom-based assessments for the ArtsEducational TechnologyHealth and Physical Education, and Social Studies based on the state's learning standards to help guide day-to-day instruction. State curriculum specialists create tasks and questions that model good assessments and provide them to local school districts.

For a detailed explanation of state testing requirements, please refer to OSPI's site.