AACRAO teams with K-12 assessment consortia to help colleges use new readiness results

by:  Jacqueline E. King, PhD, Director, Higher Education, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Michael Reilly, Executive Director, AACRAO

In 2009, a bipartisan group of governors and chief state school officers came together to sponsor the development of content standards in English language arts and mathematics aligned to faculty expectations for readiness for entry-level, credit bearing college courses.  The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by more than 40 states.  These states are now several years into the process of implementing these new standards, which has required new curricula and teaching materials, extensive professional development for teachers, and the development of new aligned assessments.
Assessment Consortia Membership​​

Spurred by funding from the federal Race to the Top Assessment program, states formed two consortia to create assessments aligned to the Common Core:  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).  These consortia are developing online assessments that will measure the higher-order critical thinking, communication, and program solving skills demanded by the new standards. Both consortia have field tested their end-of-year assessments this spring; and states will conduct the first operational administration of the new tests in spring 2015. 

Higher education institutions in many states are taking part in the consortia, with the goal of recognizing an agreed upon achievement level on the high school assessments to determine readiness for placement into entry-level, credit bearing courses (the consortia assessments are not intended to replace existing admission tests).  Member states in both consortia have approved policies that describe how student scores can be used by higher education institutions to determine student readiness for credit-bearing, entry-level courses.
Assessment Results

AACRAO is partnering with the consortia to develop guidance for states and institutions as they anticipate the need to transmit student test results from K–12 to higher education. This guidance offers a list of potential options for delivering the results from these assessments to higher education institutions [see sidebar].  In the first phase of this project we hope to identify ways for state education agencies to deliver assessment results to public higher education institutions within a particular state. We recognize that ultimately independent higher education institutions may wish to utilize the assessment results. We also recognize that many students choose to attend colleges and universities outside of their home states. The available options also may serve these institutions and student pathways, but future discussions will be necessary to fully develop approaches that will address the wider range of student high school-to-college transitions.

Further, AACRAO is partnering with the consortia to identify potential modifications that would be necessary to student information systems, placement procedures, and other administrative and/or software systems in order to incorporate the new test score data. AACRAO and the consortia also plan outreach to the major student information system providers to alert them to this new national test score information that colleges and universities may want to store and use. 

Example:  Smarter Balanced Test Records



  • Composite score
  • Composite score
  • Standard error
  • Standard error
  • Performance Level
  • Performance Level
  • Claims:
  • Claims:
  • Reading
  • Concepts & Procedures
  • Writing
  • Problem Solving & Modeling/Data Analysis
  • Listening
  • Communicating Reasoning
  • Research




This work is being undertaken with the goal that colleges can begin to recognize scores for students who take the new assessments in spring 2015 and matriculate to higher education beginning in fall 2016.

For more information on the consortia:

For more information on how higher education is planning to integrate these new assessments in your state, contact your state higher education lead: