WEA supports a student assessment systems that:

  • Ensures no single test or measure is used for high-stakes decisions about students, educators or schools
  • Is used to improve instruction by helping educators plan instruction and design needed interventions
  • Supports educators with meaningful professional development so that tests can be administered and utilized in a valid and reliable way
  • Only relies on tests that have validity for each purpose used
  • Ensures tests are free of cultural, ethnic and socio-economic bias
  • Adequately supports the needs of a diverse range of learners including English learners and students with disabilities
  • Utilizes valid proficiency standards set at an appropriate developmental level when scores are used to define "meeting standard"
  • Is aligned with curriculum and state academic standards

Changes to testing in ESSA

The following testing provisions are included in the ESSA:

  • Families can refuse testing if state has an opt-out policy or law but states are required to determine what to do if a school or district does not reach the 95% participation rate
  • Districts may select an alternate HS assessment that aligns with state standards such as the ACT or SAT, which Washington state may pursue in the future
  • Schools must notify parents of state & district policies regarding student participation in assessments mandated by ESSA. Detailed information about what tests are required, what they are designed to assess, what the testing window is, and when parents can expect their child's results must be posted on the school website. This new requirement started in the 2016-17 school year
  • An Innovative Assessment & Accountability grant, initially limited to 7 states, is available
  • States may apply for Assessment Audit grants to reduce redundant or low-quality tests and states can provide sub-grants to local districts to conduct their own audits.

  • Federal requirements


    The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, maintains the previous NCLB requirements to annually administer English Language Arts and Math tests in grades 3-8 and once in high school. A science test must also be administered once during grades 3-5, once during grades 6-8 and once in high school.

    To meet federal and state requirements for testing, Washington state started using the Smarter Balanced Assessment in spring 2015 for ELA and Math, a test aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The science requirement is met by the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) administered in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade and replaces the Science MSP at grades 5 & 8 and the Biology EOC in HS.

    The WA-AIM can be administered as an alternative to the SBA for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Eligibility for the WA-AIM is determined by a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.

    ESSA also mandates that states provide for an annual assessment of English proficiency of all English Language Learners. Washington's adoption of the ELPA21 starting in the 2015-16 school year will fulfill this requirement. Learn more about this test.

    In addition, school districts that receive Title I federal funding to aid educationally disadvantaged students in high poverty areas must periodically participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). To find out more about the NAEP, including if your school will be participating, visit OSPI's site.

  • State requirements

    Get information about which tests are required for graduation and learn about the history of state mandated tests.

    Learn more